How are our students communicating? Let me count the ways!

As the new term approaches many faculty across campus are beginning to reach out to their students. This got me thinking about the what tools our students using for electronic communication.  According to the 2011 ECAR National Study of Students and Information Technology in Higher Education (, Email and Texting are students’ two most common electronic communication tools with 75% of students classifying themselves as frequent email users and 74% of students classifying themselves as frequent texters.  Facebook and Twitter came in 3rd and 4th places respectively with with 58% of students classifying themselves as Facebook users and only 11% of students classifying themselves as frequent tweeters.  So what does this all equate to in terms of communication volume?  The ECAR survey reported:

  • Frequent e-mail users (75% of students) send or receive an average of 25 e-mails a day.
  • Frequent texters (74% of students) send or receive an average of 84 text messages a day.
  • Frequent Facebook users (58% of students) log into and/or check Facebook 13 times a day.
  • Frequent Twitter users (11% of students) read or post 112 tweets a day

This results in a huge volume of data for our students!  So how do students prefer that we communicate with them?  Surprisingly email still comes out on top! When asked “Q8A. Which things do you wish your instructors used more?” students cited email and the Learning Management system as their top electronic tools they wished were used more:


So you may be wondering where this leaves Facebook.  According to the ECAR survey the majority (54%) of students still wish to keep their academic and social lives separate and when asked specifically how they felt about a professor friending them 39% of students reported that they felt this was not appropriate.



So where does this leave us?  Perhaps right where we started with email and the Course Management System.  This is not to say we should not branch out and try new communicating technologies, but it does confirm that students are most comfortable with the tools that we are also most familiar with.  Just a thought as the new semester begins!