As educators we need to recognize that communication is changing in some very fundamental ways and to consider what this means for our students and our own approach to teaching and learning.
Our instructional design team was discussing fall workshop offerings the other day and the topic of online communication tools came up. When we first began using LMS we had fewer options: email, chat, and discussion board.
That has certainly changed today.
We no longer need to be logged into our LMS to communicate with our class. By subscribing to announcements and messaging, as well as discussion threads, blog posts, and by integrating social networks such as Twitter or Google+ we’re effectively connected from everywhere – all the time.
Perhaps the biggest changes have not been in the communication features but in the devices themselves. Smartphones allow us to be connected not only via voice and text at anytime from any place, but to any and every device as well.
The lines of communication are blurring.
Last fall, our help desk began using Google Voice to permit customers to text their requests. Our help desk staff can now respond to SMS from their computers via chat or Hangouts. The other day I shared a link from my WiFi connected iPad via text messaging to a colleague’s smartphone, effectively blurring the lines between email, text, chat, phones, tablets, and desktops.
For years we advised instructors to post in Blackboard when and how often they will be checking their email and when students should expect a reply. But do we in fact even “check” our email these days? Our mobile technologies permit us to be alerted wherever we happen to be, any time a message is received regardless of whether it is email, or text, social networks, etc.
Maybe its time to revise our communications statements to better reflect our always on, always connected lifestyles?
“If I am available I will try to respond to your messages between the following hours… By the way, I am traveling on these dates and may not be able to respond to your messages until…”
What do you think?