We have all either heard it, said it or thought it before. Why don’t students read their emails? Why do they text message instead of just talking to each other? Why is everything changing so fast? In the last two decades, there has been tremendous change in the way we communicate. Of course, for our students, social media, texting, and immediate gratification has always been the norm. For those of us brave enough to admit remembering the joys of getting wrapped up in the long phone cord and spending hours on the phone talking to our friends, it is often tough for us to understand why students today would prefer to text message over picking up the phone and making a call. However, whether we like it or not, one thing is clear: “Text messages now outrank phone calls as the dominant form of communication among Millennials” (Gallup). Moreover, email is dying as a means of communication. In a study at Bowling Green State University this year, “more than one-third of students (39 percent) said they don’t always read emails from academic advisers, and more than half (54 percent) of students said the same about emails from the university or from academic departments” (“Read and Unread“). In another 2015 study at Borough of Manhattan Community College the average read rates for emails was 54%; the median was 52%.
So what should we do? Should we look into how to harness the power of social media? Should we text our students? Should we be looking at the trends and trying to get ahead of the next wave of technology? Many college faculty are now on Facebook, of course, students have now migrated to things like Snapchat, Viber, WhatsAPP, KiK, or Slingshot to communicate with friends. Students are also starting to play with the new text message like/ walki talki like/ video chatting applications like Marco Polo and Glide. If you haven’t seen these, you might want to give them a look. They have some serious potential for teaching and learning.