Saturday, April 24, 2010

E-mail is so Old School

And Landlines Too

A common theme in this blog is communication. It is key to so many elements of my job as a DL (distributed learning) teacher.

Lately I'm finding it is harder to get in touch with my students. E-mail is so oldschool for them. Students may have their own e-mail address, but often only check it once a week. I wonder if most high schoolers rely on messaging in Facebook as opposed to e-mail? That seems to be the way many of my friends 'e-mail' these days.


Phoning isn't the old standby it used to be either. It seems that for a lot of families the landline is the number they give the school, but in reality they don't use it much as each member of the family has their own cell. Once you track down the right person's cell number you might be ok. The students, though, they aren't so keen on voice calls. Instead they're all about texting.

These changes have really only come about in a big way in the past year.


So when my colleague suggested that we needed district issued cell phones for texting our students, I laughed at first and then realized that she was probably onto something! I don't use my person cell that much (and only learned how to text a few months ago--yes I'm a cell phone ludite) so I have a very limited plan. And I'm not keen on giving out my personal number to my students. Come to think of it, they're probably not that keen on giving out their cell number to their teacher!

Question Time

Do you text your students? If so, how have you set this up so that proper boundaries are set, both for them and for you? If you have students at a distance, how else do you keep in contact?

As always, thanks for reading what I write.

Photo Credits
All images in this post are have Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Licenses.

e-mail screenshot by mwoodard
Tyneham - old telephone by Whipper snapper
Stop texting & watch the game by Lorainne DeSabato


  1. I so agree. We have no landline and I still use email because I am an old school generation.

    I prefer texting and really do not like to talk on the phone. I really wanted to collect phone numbers to text students but was discouraged by my district. I understand and really like the idea of district issued cell phones. We have so many disruptions in school with continuous announcements that can easily be targeted to the few students involved via a text message.

    I think most districts are missing a huge opportunity here.

  2. I love your idea of district issued cell phones for communicating with students. Better communication makes for better teaching/learning, doesn't it? I think so!

    I text with students for educational purposes only, but it truly is the way to instantly contact them and get a response. I started as a result of a field trip. I asked for student cell #s when we went out of town. Although each student was with a chaperone, I still wanted cell #s, mostly as a safety pre-caution. They programmed my number into their phones and occasionally contact me about school related subjects. My favourite instance so far was when I was in Kelowna for a medical appointment and I received a text from an art student asking if I could stop by an art supply store and pick up black fabric dye for her batik project - something you cannot buy in my town and she'd just run out!

    I think if it's used to enhance the communication between a teacher and a student for educational purposes, we'd be crazy not to use cell phones!

  3. @Louise, thanks for your comments. I like the idea of the office texting either the student directly or the classroom teacher so as not to have all those annoying, but often necessary, announcements.

    You mentioned that you prefer texting to talking on the phone. I think this is especially true for my DL students who always seem uncertain as to how to address me (is it Ms., Miss, or Mrs. Thompson? or do I just call her Claire) if they can remember my name ;-) Quite a large number of my students suffer from social anxiety too--making a person to person voice call stressful for them.

  4. @Errin, it's good to hear from you :-) I like your story about your art student contacting you when you were in Kelowna--a great use of texting! The more I think about it, the more I think I should pursue this idea.

    As you said
    I think if it’s used to enhance the communication between a teacher and a student for educational purposes, we’d be crazy not to use cell phones!

  5. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Claire Thompson. Claire Thompson said: Influenced by last week's Moodle meet on Cell phones in the classroom--my recent blog post E-mail is so Old School. [...]

  6. Well it's settled then. I'll order us a couple from the board office. ;)

  7. I know I teach in a really different context (adults), but I'm just trying to get my hands on a cell phone now so I can keep in touch with students on a course I have just started. I'll use it mostly for texting reminders to students to attend class.

    As for kids (if my two are anything to go by) texting is the only way you can guarantee that you reach them. You just cannot ignore it any more.

  8. Off topic.

    been thinking of you for 2 reasons.

    1. Welcome to Facilitating Online - look forward to having you around as a mentor for the newbies on the course.

    2. Just about to publish a post on my PLE for the 3rd year, having been inspired by you back in 2008!!

  9. @Sarah, thanks for your comments! Texting certainly does seem to be the way this current wave of students (high school and post secondary) prefers to communicate.

    I'm looking forward to your Facilitating Online course. I was tempted to sign up last year and thought I couldn't pass up on it two years in a row!

    I look forward to reading your PLE post! I just took a quick look at what I wrote in my PLE post from January of this year. Even though it has just been 6 months, there are a few new tools that I have come to totally rely upon. It's always interesting to see how things evolve :-)


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