How are you holding up? It’s a grey afternoon in Scotland and it looks as if a thunderstorm is brewing; alas I don’t think it will manifest itself. The announcement that we are still not permitted to travel beyond the 5 mile mark hit us hard this week. It has set wild camping plans back to who-knows-when.
Anyway, I went to walk off my disappointment and had an insight I want to share as a bit of a light-hearted, we all have our moments Friday story.
It’s all about Communication
Have you ever experienced that you suddenly gained an insight or understanding, that once you got it, is so mindbogglingly, fore-head-slapping obvious that you cannot believe you didn’t see this before? Yeah that happened to me today.
My mum would refer to these as: ‘There is a difference between knowing and knowing.’
Wissen (noun) und wissen (verb) sind zwei verschiedene Dinge!– mum
Anyway, today’s understanding gained was one of these moments. Over the last days I have seen several posts in the academic Twitterverse of people having email anxiety, which seemed more common than I expected and made me contemplate my rather tepid relationship with emails. And of course Covid19 has seen us move into MS Teams and Zoom fairly rapidly, entirely changing how we relate and communicate with our learners.
Since I hate Moodle with a passion, and emails come second, I have of course immediately moved all communication into MS Teams and Zoom. And noticed I have never had so many thank you messages than I had this semester (across various platforms). One mechanism was certainly that with all the worries during the last months learners might be more appreciative of support. But I also took care to amplify my voice, to make a point of being more present–which is so much easier if I can just send a chat message, and a gif. Rather than having to use forums, which are a minimum of six clicks away; or emails which always have this air of formality about them, and I end up deleting more than writing.*
So, anyway these thoughts were meandering through my mind, when, suddenly:
I was contemplating forms of communication, and decided to make a list of all the communication that has to happen during the year. When I realised that I had listed course handbooks, instructions, assessment descriptors to the list–without much thought.
Yup. That was it.
I know obvious!
What I had–until today–labelled as administrative chores that are usually hovering somewhere on the To-Do list of life, is actually, in fact, communication with my learners, not admin (as such). This entirely shifted my perspective of providing material, such as course handbooks etc. They are not just a necessary collection of rules, policies, and information, but they are de facto, key communication with our learners. So. Not sure what’s next after that insight. And how I am rephrasing–reshaping this communication because it is clearly not successful.
I mean how often have you thought or told your email client after receiving an inquiry: ‘Read the syllabus!’
Been ask by half the class the same question, although the answer is in at least three places in the course handbook? Does this sound like successful communication to you?
Hm. Any ideas are welcome!
But seriously, is this not the most important but also most Duh-moment insight to have? Quite embarrassing when I think about it–so I won’t. Just thought I share, for entertainment purposes only. Well, or if you happen to have moments like these to let you know: you are not alone!
*Even a short email can take me up to an hour to write! Come to think of it maybe this is email anxiety?