The following is just a brain dump as I try to develop some workshop material on Digital Citizenship and communicating. Just thought I would share.
Back in the day when I started teaching I used a ditto machine, occasionally a copy machine, phone and the US Postal service. There were no mobile phones, texting, email, discussion boards, internet, among others. Somehow we managed. Now there is a large number of ways we can communicate and connect, to some this is a boon to others a night mare.
Lets take a look at email. On the plus side, I can leave an email message for a parent regarding missing homework, I do not have to wait for the mail to deliver it or play phone tag. Email has aided me in setting up a phone call to discuss a sensitive issue again avoiding phone tag. I send messages to myself as a reminder. In my current position, I can quickly connect and some times troubleshoot a situation without having to drive to another school saving time and money. My communication with colleagues, family and friends has increased
On the negative side, my communication with colleagues, family and friends has increased. Communication is so easy people send a message about almost anything, forwarding every joke or funny picture along. Is that really communication? In my current role people no longer trouble shoot a situation. When I had trouble with the ditto machine I could not send a quick message to the AV guys, it could take days to connect. I tried to fix the problem or asked my neighbor for a hand. Now it is email and forget it. Because we can email anytime of day or night we should not expect people to reply anytime of day or night. This expectation of being connected, communicating and working all the time is a new phenomenon.
The tools came and somehow our etiquette and social skills went out the window. When I was in high school I remember my English teacher teaching us how to write a formal letter and a social letter. We even learned how to address it properly using sir, madam, Mr. Mrs. or Miss. We were learning, in modern terms, Social verses Professional Networking. We often complain about the inappropriate use of all these tools. Are we teaching our staff and our students these essential skills of communication? Do they know when to use each tool, what kind of language is appropriate for the audience and situation? Are we modeling good digital citizenship?