students and e-mail

students and e-mail September 28, 2013

Today's New York TImes features an article about students considering e-mail antiquated and not checking it, preferring texting and social media. The articles suggests that perhaps professors ought to adjust and start communicating with students via text instead of e-mail.


Texting is simply not a convenient way to receive – or to send, for that matter – professional communication, detailed documents, assignments as attachments, digitized readings, and anything that ought to be kept in an organized way for later consultation. And most students do not want to be connected with their professors on Facebook.

This is simply a case of students notcoming to university with a competency they will need in adult life. Professors need to help them adjust to the way professionals communicate, not pander to what is convenient to them for casual chatting.


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  • And I fondly remember striding and struggling through blinding snow storms on college campus, to check my professor’s chemistry class bulletin board to see which labs would be open, so that I could complete my extra credit assignment. My the times they be a texting.

  • I don’t know how they manage it.

    (At least in German) writing SMS is much more tiresome than writing an email.

  • Marta L.

    One thing I’ve had to do with my students is set up what I call “electronic office hours.” I tell them that I will sit down every day at a certain time (in my case, 8 PM every weekday night) and answer any professional email that’s come in throughout the day. I often check more often than that, but I tell them not to rely on me to answer (indeed, to read) any email sent after that point until the next day. I also encourage them to set up a routine.

    I think with texting and messaging and the like, students expect their instructors to be available 24/7 – and expect that when they interact with us, it should involve no more thought than a FB comment on a friend’s vacation-picture. Not true. This is a different part of their life and requires boundaries, both in terms of times and intentionality. (This is, incidentally, the same reason I only allow laptops in the classroom if they turn the WiFi off.)

  • Chris

    Facebook has attachment options now, so *sometimes* I use that instead, but yeah, tell them to suck it up and send email straight to their phones which they almost certainly have.