Students crave meaningful communication

By Kendra Wilkerson
Pulse Staff Reporter

Photo of student viewing Palo Alto's Facebook page on a smartphone. Photo by Kendra Wilkerson.
Student viewing Palo Alto’s Facebook page on a smartphone. Photo by Kendra Wilkerson.

A convenience sample of 15 Palo Alto College students revealed that students check their social media websites 50 percent more than they check their student email.

In an effort to keep students in the loop, many educational institutions have joined the digital age.

As the digital age of communication evolves, people are accustomed to using social media. A study conducted by Pew Research recently discovered that 58 percent of adults have a smartphone, and 60 percent of cellphone owners use their phone to access the Internet.

Are the campus social media pages, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress, the best way to communicate with Palo Alto students?

According to an email from Patricia Parma, vice chancellor for Student Success, “A clarification has been made to Board Policy F.7.1 Student Email Account to reflect that the Alamo Colleges-issued student email account is the official electronic form of communication.  By stating “the official electronic mode,” the language is strengthening the policy that emails to students, especially those with Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protected information are to go to the ACES student email account and not a personal address.”

Gabriella Sigala, a sophomore Criminal Justice major, thinks that social media, rather than email, is the best way to communicate with students.

“ I check my student email once in awhile, but I check my personal email, Facebook and Twitter accounts many times a day,” Sigala said.

Sigala explained she is overwhelmed with the amount of student emails she receives on a daily basis, to the point she avoids her student account all together.

Palo Alto students said that the email sign on process is not user friendly and their email boxes are being filled up with unnecessary information.

Many students follow the Palo Alto College’s Facebook account and are actively tuned into the information that it communicates.

“Palo Alto often post about events and speakers that are on campus,” said Maria Guerrero, a sophomore Biology major. “Palo Alto can improve on their use of social media by creating posts before events.”

Guerrero also mentioned that she wishes that the rumored academic changes could be addressed by having discussions on Facebook or Twitter.

Andrew Valdez, senior multimedia specialist from the college’s Office of Public Relations, said, “Once the department gets the information on the possible academic changes, we will update the students.”

Valdez also mentioned that the Public Relations department aims to post engaging information that will keep students informed.

Since students are so connected to their cellphones and social media, should Palo Alto’s professors use it as a means of communication?

Dr. Daniel Rodriguez, a licensed professional counselor and professor at Palo Alto College said, “Students are very much connected to social media. Maybe we need to have a conversation about that, in which way they would like to received communication?”

In an experiment conducted in Rodriguez’s class, he asked his 23 students to pull out their cellphones, turn them on vibrate and set them on the desks. Within nine seconds, one of the phones vibrated, signaling that their phone received a message.

Rodriguez’s said, “There is a lot of value, value that we haven’t even begun to explore. I think we need to be more proactive about how we can use the social media and cellphones. If this is the medium that our students are communicating, we should do our best to explore it and incorporate it into their education.”