In an article by Raju Rishi, Always Connected, But Hard to Reach (Educause, 2, 2007), an important point is brought forward that students are connected virtually but through preferred channels of communication. They use mobile devices, such as wireless laptops, Blackberries and cell phones, communicating through various channels depending on their needs. For instance, they prefer instant messaging and online social networks/websites for personal informal communications, but emails for more formal, such as information from their universities.
The problem becomes reaching students through these fragmented channels. As such university email accounts may not be viewed for weeks by students. Finding ways to reach students both for information and for course work will entail learning how they prefer to communicate. As such, students have choice and ownership when it comes to connecting with others. Some suggestions are providing a discount plan for phones, creating mobile groups reached through cell/mobile phones, and putting information into small chunks.
The basic message of this article is “students want to feel engaged, to be connected, and to learn and grow. But they prefer the tools that are convenient and comfortable and fit their mobile lifestyle” (p.9). Universities need to reach beyond traditional media in order to connect, interact and provide engaging education.