Email is out. You know it, we know it, students know it. Michigan State University recently found out exactly why email stopped working with their students with the help of sticky notes, leading university administrators to rethink their entire communication strategy.
The project at MSU was simple: administrators across departments used colorful sticky notes to represent the emails they send to students. The sticky notes were placed on a wall, which was soon covered top to bottom. Staff members were shocked to discover that the university was overwhelming students with more than four hundred emails each semester. Students understandably didn't have the time or inclination to read the tremendous amount of information pushed to them each day, meaning that they missed out on important information from the university.
MSU's process mapping exercise highlighted other big problems with email: not only were emails much too frequent, they were also lengthy, complex, and redundant. Texas A&M University and Pennsylvania State University had similar findings, noting that emails don't capture incoming students' attention because students are completely inundated with emails.
Exercises like the one at MSU are powerful ways to help administrators understand communications from the student perspective and consequently adjust communication strategies to better serve students. As we know, institutions find huge success with text messaging, which - unlike email - is short, simple, and easy to coordinate across departments. So don't despair if your university faces an email overload problem like MSU; there are other effective solutions out there to help you reach students with the information they need, when they need it.
About the author: Sahil is a Business Development Associate at Signal Vine. When he's not in the office working on Signal Vine's #TextingTuesdays video series, you can find him on a soccer field. You can find Sahil on Linkedin and learn more about his experiences with helping kids through education and soccer.