What Sunshine Is to Flowers: A Literature Review on the Use of Emoticons to Support Online Learning

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Contribution to Books

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The effective use of electronically mediated communication (EMC) is fundamental to digital literacy and, therefore, a high-demand competency in professional communities of practice, business, society, and online education. However, the use of EMC can be challenging in educational contexts; given that EMC tends to rely heavily on text-based formats, meaning and intent may be lost in translation from thought to posted message. Thus, online educators value techniques that have the potential to improve the quality and effectiveness of text-based communication. One such technique is the use of emoticons to represent emotional and personality nuances present in face-to-face communication. In this chapter, we present a review of the literature on emoticons used in support of online learning—with the goal of improving future practice and research of online teaching and learning—and then provide some specific instructional recommendations for online educators.