Happy Birthday, Email!

As email celebrates its 40th anniversary, I am thinking about how I frame the discussion of email in my classroom. Email is really no longer a cutting-edge technology. Though not as old as the letter or memo, at 40 email has likely assumed its place among the more traditional forms of business communication given other available and even more immediate communication technologies.

At the same time, though, it is frequently used as a business communication tool. The trick is getting students to realize that in a world of texing, IM-ing, and social networking, email communication is still prevalent and desirable—and at least for now, a primary means of communicating in my classroom.

One of my students commented that “Email is soooo 20th century.” The comment was made as a joke; however, there is a ring of truth to it. When I post course announcements, I post them in D2L and send them via email. Occasionally, students will say, “I don’t even check my email anymore” or “I only check my email once a week.” Really? I still check mine several times a day, even though I am on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and once in a great while am known text or IM.

Am I against using Facebook or Twitter in the classroom? No. I know some teachers use these technologies successfully for classroom communication, but I have yet to find a way to do this without having it seem like an intrusion of my professional life into my personal life or in a way that is as efficient (or more so) than using D2L and email.

Do you use Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking tools to communicate in your classroom? Please share your experiences.  We’d really like to know how you make this work.

Meanwhile, check out this article from Mashable: “The History of Email.” The infographic is cool and would be a great talking point in the classroom. You may also want to check out the link in this article to an article on email acronyms. Who knew that “OMG” has been around since 1917 or that LOL translated to “little old lady” in the 1960s?

Many thanks to Marie Flatley for sending this article our way.

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