Should universities forget email and use Facebook instead?
Neilsen Online has just released a report stating that amongst other things such as search engine usage, social networking is more popular than email. Considering email is one of the main ways students hear about things from the student unions and university, is email becoming a thing of the past?
Important news and emergencies
University email often, if not always, comes as a web mail solution, allowing users to login through a browser. I, on the other hand, use a desktop client which suits me as I use the IMAP protocol. I opted in for this, and personally it makes my life easier. For others, it's not so easy to receive up to the minute news. I also have a BlackBerry so my email gets sent straight to my phone.
Students aren't expected to keep their browser open at all times in case something comes through the wires. From my research, most students check their email up to 5 times a day.
Last year, there was a security threat on campus when a suspected device was found in the library. Immediately, emails were sent out to all 19,000 students to avoid campus and those on site, to evacuate. I didn't get the email, but if I got the message through Facebook (as I was on it at the time), I wouldn't have dragged my arse up to campus.
If Facebook was used to spread the message, many more people would have been alerted to the fact there was an incident on campus, but it wasn't.
Some universities, such as the University of Manchester and my own place of work, the University of Kent, have adopted a text-messaging service which keeps students up to date via SMS messaging to mobile phones and devices. If a lecture or seminar is cancelled, or a major incident is in play on campus, the text messaging facility will alert all students to the fact immediately.
Should universities put more effort into using Facebook to communicate with students? Is email becoming less interesting or a thing of the past? Start the ball rolling and leave a comment, or vote in the poll below.