On Teaching Fashion: 24/7 Teacher


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I don’t know about you dear reader, but I am guessing that outside of the classroom you (like me) have a pretty busy life. I maintain an active design practice, I write, I am a mom-to-be and my free time I am a woman turning a barn into a house! Outside of the classroom I like napping, reading, yoga, long walks. I am finding that I do not like being bombarded with texts from students on my personal cell phone; during a recent field trip I offered my cell phone for emergency contact purposes, now texting the teacher 24/7 is de rigueur.

I want to talk this week about communication boundaries as they are shifting and there seemingly is no official protocol.  What are the policies on electronic communication and how can I embed my policies into my syllabus next semester to the mutual benefit of teacher and student?

According to The Pew Research Center students exchange up to 60 emails a day. In a recent study Pew found that texting is the most effective means to engage with students. The article that featured this study can be found here. Email is not an automatic form of engagement according to tech savvy educator Vanessa J. Alander in her recent Prof. Hacker post on The Chronicle for Higher Education “students do not use their emails unless you specifically tell them to and then remind them throughout the semester.”

One thing is clear: texting is an effective means to communicate and I have noticed that my students are not responding to my emails as readily as they have in the past.  Alander offers suggests a third party web service called Remind101 instead of using your personal phone number.  Other options include Google voice and broadbander.

The third party format feels appropriate to me. I plan to insert a statement regarding policies on electronic communication in my future syllabi. This will include a mandatory sign up to a third-party texting service, along with my email and office phone. I will state that all inquiries will be responded to within 24 hours. I will not hand out my personal cell phone number. On a field trip I will with the caveat that it be erased at the end of the day.  n closing, txtN S hre 2 stay n as a teacha my hope S 2 fnd a wa 2 use txtN as a 2l w/o it interfering N2 my pRsNL lyf.

Translation: In closing, texting is here to stay and as a teacher my hope is to find a way to utilize texting as a tool without it interfering into my personal life.

What are your policies on texting as classroom communication? I would love to hear your thoughts!

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  • Dominika April 05, 2013 02.04 pm

    At the the beginning of a semester I simply inform students what are my preferred means of communication – and in most of the cases it is an email. I do not give them my personal phone number because there is no need to do it. Concerning the emails: I do not respond at weekends and I check my email account once a day. I let myself to respond within three days to students’ emails – usually that’s enough. Some may say it’s quite strict but after w few years of trying to work out the best method of communication the one I just described works best. It teaches students that I do respond to their emails but I am not online all the time. I am willing to help them and answer their questions but it does not mean that I do it immediately. And they respect it and learn that if they need something they need to think in advance and also respect my time. And it works.

  • Kat April 05, 2013 08.56 pm

    For traditional courses I use the message system embedded in our LMS. I’ve found this keeps things from getting lost in emails and, based on my teaching style, they must be on it a few times a week to keep up with due dates anyway.

    As for field trips, I have a Google Voice number just for such occasions. I forward it to my cell on trips and I diable forwarding as Simons as the trip ends.

  • Kelly C April 05, 2013 09.00 pm

    Dominika, great feedback thank you. It is good to set realistic parameters and stick to them, I admire you. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kelly C April 05, 2013 09.06 pm

    Kat, that is good advice. Our current LMS system is flawed, once the new system is set up I am going to try this. I like the google voice number suggestion and will try it. I have a skype number and have tried a few text apps, not really happy with the results though. Thanks for the feedback Kat!


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