Appropriate Tones for Elements of Online Classes

This post was also written in response to a discussion prompt in the class I am taking (on facilitating online classes). We were asked to match each of the six elements of an online class you see below to specific tones described in Chapter six of Facilitating Online Learning.

I set out to write this and realized a table was the way to go. Obviously multiple tones will work for many of these elements, but for the sake of the table I’ve focused on a just one or two for each.

Appropriate Tones for Elements of Online Classes
Elements Tone(s) Explanation
Announcements Neutral, but engaging Announecments need to serve a pragmatic purpose. They are the gateway to the class and need to be a clear and concise as possible.
Personal stories Informal or humorous Personal stories are an opportunity to connect with the participants. They can also serve to releive tension within a hard working learning community.
Responses to questions posted in Facilitator Forum Neutral, but receptive and thoughtful Facilitators need to be careful not to judge participants (at least not harshly) in their responses. They need to "hear" participants concerns and respond with care – both in the details they provide and in their efforts to remain supportive of the participants.
Comments in a class discussion Analytical or Whimsical An analytical tone is appropriate in discussion comments if the facilitator is contributing something new (and thought provoking) to the discussion. Use of a variety of tones is good, though, and even whimsical responses can add a bit of levity to a heavy discussion.
Feedback on an assignment Neutral or immaginative Feeback on an assignment must serve it’s purpose clearly and conscisely – and without offending the participant. However, if the facitlitator can also inspire participants to take their ideas further, greater learning and innovation might result.
Private messages to a participant Nurturing or curious Private messages can serve a wide variety of purposes and thus can carry nearly any tone, as long as it is fit for the purpose. However, in most cases the facilitator will need to support participants privately. In some cases, though, where a participant needs to be confronted about a missed due date or inappropriate behavior it might be best to express some curiosity about the infraction rather than to blame or "lecture" the participant.