Students in K12 schools need more access to email! It has become one of the most used, if not the most used, form of communication in the workplace. It is a skill that today's students will need to master if they are to be effective communicators in their future careers. We've all been on the receiving end of emails messages that range from unprofessional to vague, to unclear, to perhaps even threatening. Unless you're this person's supervisor, it's difficult to help them see the problems with their email etiquette. What are you going to do, reply back to Bob and say "Hey Bob, your emails are so vague they leave the rest of us wondering if their are any lights on upstairs."
The student/teacher relationship, however, lends itself very well to training youth the proper skills, practices, and etiquette for using email efficiently and effectively. If students were required to communicate with teachers via email they would be able to practice many of the skills below:
- How to create a distribution list & when to use it
- When/Why use "Reply All"
- When/Why use CC & BC
- When/How ineffective email can be and how to avoid miscommunication and other common problems
- Knowledge of attachments and file types
- How/When to sound formal or professional
- How to keep email organized
- How to to differentiate between texting and email
- Using email with mobile devices
- How to keep your email secure
It's not necessary for elementary school-aged kids to have email, but students should be fairly proficient and comfortable with the tool before they get into high school. I tried to find estimates on how many schools/districts provide their students with email accounts, but was unable to find any reliable data. However, it has been my experience that the majority of public education institutions still do not provide students with an official email address.
There are many ways for schools and districts to provide email to their students:
- Google Apps for EDU (free)
- Microsoft Live @ EDU
- Gaggle.net - Has some great filters built-in that filter language, attachments, topics, etc.
I consider email to be one of the most basic 21st Century Skills that today's students need to know, and yet many of our students don't use it at school. It's time to bring this skill deficiency to table and address it. Let's use email with our students and train them in an environment where they can make mistakes with consequences that won't cost them their jobs, or more.