Monday, May 24, 2004

Electronic communication

I have 3 hours of office hours on Mondays, and with my lecture final exam tomorrow afternoon I figured I'd be bombarded with student queries. I was swamped, but not in the way most of my colleagues would expect. I've only had three students drop by my office today, one of those had to pick up a CD and the other two came as a pair. However, in the past three hours I've responded to 17 student e-mails and had IM (instant messenger) conversations with five different students. The queries ranged from the panicked "what is going to be on the exam?" style to detailed lists of questions that had obviously been prepared only after much careful studying.

Given that I'm teaching at a community college with no on-campus housing these numbers aren't surprising; most students only come to campus when they absolutely have to. I'd also guess that numbers like these are probably very common for readers of this blog. What's more surprising to me is that the faculty at my campus don't reach out more to our students using electronic communication. I don't know of anyone else on my campus using IMs to communicate with students (not that I've asked everybody), and a number of our faculty still either don't use e-mail or don't give their e-mail addresses to their students. I'm rather baffled by the lack of use, since I find electronic communication to be both convenient and very helpful pedagogically, and if nothing else I'm sure that these 20+ students wouldn't all have stopped by my office this afternoon.

And now that my electronic communication is done for the day, it's time to get back to grading.

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