Internet technology has revolutionized communication on college campuses for students and professors. Students in the past depended on odd office hours and voice mail services to connect with professors outside of class time. Thankfully the advent of email allows students to reach their professors from anywhere that they have access to the Web. However, there are several things students and professors should consider for proper email netiquette.
Email as the New Messaging Service
Sending an email is as efficient as writing a letter but a lot quicker than the old fashioned method of snail mail. Also, you can write out everything you need to say, which is much more effective than leaving a voice message. Emails allow you to edit yourself, and it prevents you from getting sidetracked in your communication. Another benefit that email provides is the ability to file-share items, such as documents, multimedia files, and images. Professors can email a variety of materials including slide shows, worksheets, reading assignments, and course syllabuses to students so they are better prepared for class. Students can send in their homework assignments, class projects, and term papers by email, which is super convenient for students who are ill, hospitalized, or traveling.
Keeping track of your emails gives you something concrete to look back on in case of any discrepancy, providing you a source of safekeeping. For example, say you sent a message to your professor that you were in the hospital and would miss the final exam. The professor in turn fails you because he never received the email. In this case, you can always use your sent message as documentation of the time and date of the receipt. While this may not save your grade, it gives you a much stronger defense.
When depending on email, it is a must that both professors and students check their inbox on a regular basis. In the case that you have multiple email accounts, such as a university email and a personal email, make sure to check both accounts at least once a week. The Academic Success Center at the University of South Carolina adds that you should only use your university email to communicate with professors to prevent your message being lost as spam or junk. Include your full name as known by the professor, the name of the course, and the course number in the first lines of the message. Write your message professionally using correct grammar; do not use Web slang, such as “lol” or smiley icons. Also, according to the Purdue Online Writing Lab, some professors are less apt to use or check their email, so check with all of your professors at the start of the semester to see their stance on using email. In the case that they do not respond regularly to your emails, have alternative methods for communication including telephone or during business hours.
In addition to email, other forms of Web communication that are becoming more acceptable include blogging, web pages, and social media. Professors often set up their own blogs or web pages as a way to open lines of communication with students. However, these Internet pages typically focus on providing Web links and resources related to the course subject. Social media, which includes Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, provides open lines of communication, but file sharing is restricted. Therefore, email remains the most effective way to communicate via the Web for professors and students.