How we communicate with each other says a lot about how we communicate with students

My most popular post on this blog so far was this one on email. I think most of the people who read it were students or recent students, though the colleagues who regularly empty their inboxes recognized themselves right away.

The students I communicated with enthusiastically agreed with that post. Too many emails from their institution.

But I’m not a student, and I get too many emails. What’s going on?

Email is the primary mode of communication at my organization. I bet it’s that way at yours, too. But as fast as email is, it can be inefficient and distracting. It’s terrible for collaboration. I find I’m always having trouble figuring out when to send a message to one person, when to “reply all” or who to include.

There are a lot of examples of organizations who have eliminated email altogether. Utopia!

I’m not saying we have to eliminate email at U of T. But I will say that there are tools out there that we should consider that would help us communicate more effectively. (Our Community Crew uses a Facebook group and it works much better than email!) I wonder why we don’t at least try them.

Recently, I received an email with a major announcement that one of our senior executives had been renewed for another term. It was good news. How did this information come to me? Not only was it an email, it was a memo (a memo!) attached as a PDF. I mean, people really still write memos?

It’s time we took a look in the mirror. How we communicate with each other is going to affect how we communicate with our students. And if we’re still sending each other memos as PDFs attached to emails, is it any wonder we are struggling to be effective?


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