What You Are Saying Online without Your Words

It is often said that much, if not most, of communication comes not in what we say but in how we say it. We might say something that sounds angry, but our facial expression demonstrates that we are joking. Conversely, we might say something that sounds very friendly, but our facial expression indicates that the words should be taken as mocking. This is why emoticons exist: to recover the fidelity lost when a face-to-face message is translated into text. In fact, the ability to convey nuance in communication is one of the many advantages of providing voice or screencasting feedback to students—an issue I have covered in past columns.

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