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Too Much Information

Perhaps I noticed it more starkly because I was sick and working a reduced schedule this week. Frankly with two kids in New York City private schools I usually ignore the daily onslaught of emails announcing school raffles, parent coffee mornings, walks in support of a variety of worthy causes and the like. However, the week I read them all. Including, all too frequently, the blast reply-to-all from the email-challenged parent confirming that Dakota's missing pink cardigan could not, unfortunately, be found in her daughter Tiffany's schoolbag.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think all parents have a moral obligation to take an active interest and involvement in their children's education. However, I was struck by the difference between the New York and London schools our children have attended. During the seven school years Mariana and Walter attended English schools, they received an excellent education from teachers who cared deeply about their students. Among their pedagogic talents, they had also mastered the use of the class email list. Nonetheless, they managed to resist the urge to over-communicate, or as their charges would say, they did not inflict the dreaded T.M.I.

It is, of course, easy to criticize and harder to suggest what level or form of school communication is optimal. Moreover, parents have different attitudes toward how much information is too much and they also receive different amounts of daily email. So, here is my suggestion for schools or other organizations to fit information output to the differing information needs and desires of their stakeholders. First, developing a sound communication strategy should not be conflated with establishing an optimal email policy. There are many tools available: web sites, community wikis, RSS and Twitter feeds, Facebook and Tumblr pages, YouTube videos and podcasts, Google+ circles, Instagram photo sharing, as well as plain old mail and telephone. Second, the individual seeking to share information should ask himself how urgent is the communication? Does it need to go to the entire community or just a subset? Is a responsive action required or is it just an FYI communication? Once these and other similar questions are answered a suitable communications strategy can be determined.

We all love our kids and we are all subjected to far more information than we can hope to process and act upon. Schools are in an excellent position to start establishing the norms of communication that their students will carry forward to their next schools, employers and other institutions.
Published Wednesday, February 6, 2013 2:49 PM by Tom Glocer



notSartre said:

Too late for “too much information”!  
Once the tsunami of “everything-there-is-to-know” has been put into motion by the internet’s info-quake (Richter scale: infinity and beyond), a new type of education system was born.  It’s going to be tough to design a school around this evolutionary phenomenon, much less a control process.
I agree with your idea for schools to establish the “norms of communication”.  Perhaps a code of “info-ethics” should be introduced initially (to bridle cyber-bullying and flaming emails) followed by a program of periodic “social-media-fasting” (as some Facebook users are presently exercising on a voluntary basis).  
Ultimately, I think that our techno-savvy kids are usually way ahead of any static guidance that might be established on their behalf in our dynamic world.  
February 12, 2013 2:22 PM

CJH80 said:

Amen! As a development professional in an NYC independent school we are constantly working to refine communications and be mindful of the how, why, when and whom. The issue for most high functioning schools, however, isn't the teacher or institutional communication (although ours is still improving).  It is often the varying degrees of parent understanding, or consciousness, about TMI via email etc...to which you referred. Teaching the norms of communication to our students is, like any teachable moment, a partnership between the school and parent.  Almost all schools actively attempt to impart lessons of healthy social media/electronic engagement and practice to their students. So, perhaps it's incumbent upon the school to more proactively educate the parents when they first step foot on campus?
February 13, 2013 4:05 PM

jennapena01 said:

February 19, 2013 9:17 AM

RobinsonWayne said:

You are right
March 4, 2013 4:46 AM

maddiii2586 said:

I read about it and your schedule is so hard so how will u mangae....
March 19, 2013 5:04 AM

nghean3737 said:

Amen! As a development professional in an NYC independent school we are constantly working to refine communications and be mindful of the how, why, when and whom.
March 23, 2013 12:13 PM

Perrybundy Law said:

April 6, 2013 7:11 AM

TowJudith said:

July 6, 2013 6:40 AM

vivendis said:

Interesting post! There is too much information.
July 25, 2013 2:10 PM

Vitvian said:

Even if we are busy, even if we are tired, it will warm smile whenever you see each other, we will always go on.
August 27, 2013 5:18 AM

dave12 said:

You're absolutely right
August 29, 2013 9:53 PM
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