Friday, September 13, 2013

Students love email, so get over it and use the evidence #darksocial

Email "Students were asked what their single preferred method of formal communication was and were given the options of Email, Twitter, Facebook or Moodle. Although many respondents are happy to use SNSs [social networks] to communicate, Email still carries the most weight as the single preferred method for formal teacher–student communication (60%, n=25), followed by Moodle and Twitter (both with 14%, n=6) and Facebook (12%, n=5). All respondents in the 25–34 age category preferred email to other methods."

Hashtags and retweets: using Twitter to aid Community, Communication and Casual (informal) learning. Research in Learning Technology 2013, 21: 19692 -
Since the evolution of Web 2.0, or the Social Web, the way in which users interact with/on the Internet has seen a massive paradigm shift. Web 2.0 tools and technologies have completely changed the dynamics of the Internet, enabling users to create content; be it text, photographs or video; and furthermore share and collaborate across massive geographic boundaries. As part of this revolution, arguably the most significant tools have been those employing social media. This research project set out to investigate student’s attitudes, perceptions and activity toward the use of Twitter in supporting learning and teaching. In so doing, this paper touches on a number of current debates in higher education, such as the role (and perceived rise) of informal learning; and debates around Digital Natives/Immigrants vs. Digital Residents/Visitors. In presenting early research findings, the author considers the 3Cs of Twitter (T3c): Community, Communication and Casual (informal) learning. Data suggests that students cannot be classed as Digital Natives purely on age and suggests a rethinking of categorisations is necessary. Furthermore, the data suggests students are developing their own personal learning environments (PLEs) based on user choice. Those students who voluntarily engaged with Twitter during this study positively evaluated the tool for use within learning and teaching.


  1. Cheers Alan.
    I thought that finding might be of interest to people.

    This particular question was leading towards the point that 'if there was only one method of communication, which would you prefer it to be?'
    As you've highlighted, email was by far and away the most common response. It's particularly interesting given all the other evidence (Pew, etc) suggesting use of email is in decline in favour of social networks amongst teenagers/students. Perhaps email provides some security for more formal comms such as university/course related info.

    Hopefully the rest of the data still supports the notion that Twitter does have a role to play in supporting comms and overcoming some of the related challenges.

    Anyways, thanks for picking up on the article.
    Peter (@reedyreedles)

    1. My experience of the last 12 months is that email on smartphones has been a HUGE boost for dark social. A multiplicity of channels is a big problem both for staff and students. One size does not fit all but there are only so many hours in the day and a rapid response and in depth conversations is better than spreading yourself too thinly over too many channels. I'm currently still experimenting with a public facebook page but it's not getting much traction. If it doesn't pick up soon, it goes and I reinvest the time in existing channels, including weekly course email newsletters which have become a very valuable tool for me.