Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Begging for communication

Can I just say... I hate to beg. Does anyone really like to beg someone for communications? Probably not, but it is becoming a real pet peeve with me.

Several business people I have been dealing with... Well let's just say I believe if they want my business they will provide some service and will communicate with me. I shouldn't have to keep asking and begging for the information I want/need to move forward with a business arrangement. Grrr

And as an online instructor I shouldn't have to beg students to communicate with me. A couple of recent instances have me really perplexed. I wasn't sure one student was getting my messages. In my emails I said, please let me know if you are getting my messages. Can I be more clear than that? I expect you to reply. I shouldn't have to tell you to reply, as a matter of courtesy a student should say "Thank you I got your message about blah and I understand/will do the following..." I am very prompt at returning student emails... they should promptly let me know they got my message.

In another case a student let me know after a multi-week disappearance from an online class that they had a medical issue. Unless you are in a coma, please ask someone to open your email and send a quick message to the instructor letting them know there is a medical emergency. In this case the medical issue wasn't an emergency at all and the student could have advised me about the need for an extension of due dates. However since the student did not contact me in advance or at any time during the several weeks of absence nor were there replies to my messages asking if there was a problem, I had no choice but to apply the late policy.

Communication is a two-way street. Students have a responsibility to communicate with instructors. And instructors have a responsibility to reply in a prompt, informative manner. Making me beg repeatedly to find out if the student is getting my messages offering technical assistance so I know if the help worked just ticks me off. And I end up writing a blog posting! In this case I guess the ignorance lies with the online student population. Hopefully the following plainly stated message helps dispel that ignorance: Students... you have a responsibility to communicate with the online instructor!

1 comment:

  1. A couple of possible issues here.

    Students have certainly not been "trained" to communicate with their teachers. Most of the information in grade school and high school has been strictly one way, and in a sense the student can either take it (i.e. participate actively in their learning by following instructions) or leave it (i.e. ignore instructions and take the consequences). In an online environment, the difficulties in this power relationship may be exacerbated by the feeling on the part of the student that they are dealing with a computer instead of a person, and...

    Students don't do email naturally anymore. They txt to communicate. Email is like snail mail was to us. A letter comes from the school and you read the first couple of lines and toss it on the kitchen table for "later". If students do use email, it's only for class, and they only read their In Box, not their mail, so I put "Please Reply today!" in the subject line if I really need a reply.

    Now, that's not to say that students don't have a responsibility to communicate or to answer emails. I guess I could even put that in the syllabus. I'm just saying that the contact we want may not come naturally to them for a number of reasons. :-)