(#273) You Got Mail!

Is email “so yesterday”?

When email was just catching on, my first semester assignment asked my students to send me an email.  Some teachers distribute index cards in class for their students to complete with information like nicknames, birthdays, career goals, interesting information/tidbits, and contact information.  I used the email assignment to accomplish a few of those tasks—and to ascertain my students comfort level with technology. Remember, this was in the early days of the Internet and email. At that time some of my students did not have personal Internet access and most of us relied on dial-up connections.  There were no smart phones (how did we ever survive?) or tablets.

Fast forward to the present. All students come in with knowledge of email and most have a smart phone or tablet closely tethered to them. They have their own email account or accounts. Once enrolled in the college or university they receive another one.  They know how to and have access—but still many colleagues lament the fact that their students do not monitor college email regularly.



One would think with the ever-increasing technology that “staying in touch” would not be much of an issue today.  What with texting, messaging, tweeting  emailing, and voice mailing it should be easier than ever to reach out and, if not touch someone immediately, at least poke someone to get back with you.  My college (like most) made it possible to communicate through the Learning Management System (Backboard).

Still, students were not always responsive. Why? A few thoughts.

  • Email is “so yesterday!” I found students more inclined to text, tweet, and message as opposed to email. Short, quick spurts of spontaneous (if not well-thought out) thoughts. They (especially younger students) found email archaic; something their parents and teachers use.
  • What does the college serve up as email content? Email remains one way to distribute vital information about financial aid, campus resources and college procedures. While the information (generally) was critical, the students did not find it “sexy” enough to read. Some simply did not have the discipline or understanding of the importance of this content to their progress.
  • What do the instructors serve up as email content? Again, the information can be important like test dates and homework reminders. And, again, students tend to see it as a lot of white noise.  And ignore it.  Probably not smart—but a reality to contend with none-the-less.

What to do? A few suggestions.

  •  Email is “so today.” Whatever the new technology de jour might be, email has not gone away. Many students prepare to enter the corporate world. Email (internal and external), or something similar, will be a staple of communication. Employers more and more have been calling for soft skills. The abilities to collaborate, communicate, and create rank high and often.  As mundane as this may seem, college needs to help students develop the habit of regularly checking and appropriately responding to their all correspondence. It will be very difficult to reply to the time-sensitive demand of a supervisor or team member if the inbox is never checked.  Habits will not all of a sudden start on day one of employment.  The college years can help hone those habits.


  • Serve up enticing or intriguing content. Let’s do a “yes, and” here. Yes, it is obvious that, procedural and deadline related emails need to be distributed. And, we can also provide enticing and quick to the point emails that will draw in the students. Make them relevant and engaging.  I used to send a timely quote that related to our class discussion that day. Sometimes I shared a link that supported what a student or group raised in class. I often shared video clips with a few questions to answer.Video recommendation for the week:
    One such activity I dubbed “Where in the World is Professor P?”  Here is an example.

    And, I often posted information about timely campus events. To get them in the habit of clicking into their inboxes regularly, I would also post extra credit opportunities via emails—and then announce them after the fact in class. Those that were email vigilant (but not obsessive) got the opportunity. Those who were a bit more lax did not.  And I also was judicious in the number of emails I sent. I did not want to “spam” my own students!

What other strategies do you use to direct attention to email?

Make it a wonderful week—H.T.R.B. as needed.

You can find my podcast series at Growth and Resilience (http://stevepiscitelli.com/video-media/podcasts). 

Check out my website (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/programs.html) for programming information as well as details about upcoming webinars (http://www.stevepiscitelli.com/webinars).

My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff?  (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.

(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.


About stevepiscitelli

Community Advocate-Author-Pet Therapy Team Member
This entry was posted in Civility, Communication, Connection-Disconnection, Discipline, Life lessons, self-efficacy, soft skills, Student success, Success, teamwork and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to (#273) You Got Mail!

  1. marianbeaman says:

    Liked the video, Steve PPPPP!

    Liked by 1 person

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