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What Role Does Information Architecture Play in How Instructors and Students Communicate?

By Michael Lahey

This publication stems from my lived experience as a degree coordinator and educator who cares about curriculum and student experiences in the classroom. I have noticed the challenges undergraduate students have adapting to classrooms where there are many software tools at their disposal. Specifically, I observed confusion regarding protocols about: when, where, why, and how instructors and students should be exchanging information. As noted by a range of literature on the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant increase in digital software options in face-to-face, hybrid, and online classrooms. 

A survey and follow-up interviews with students showed that students do feel confusion regarding digital software protocols in their classes, how protocols vary from class to class, an inability to remember when and how to communicate with instructors outside of class, unsureness on where to locate information, and a preference for messaging applications over email.

Based on this research, I make a plea for the importance of instructors having a clear information architecture strategy for how, when, and what software is used for the storage and exchange of communication. This strategy could be used to frame the class experience and devote time to teaching the software used for communication and/or information storage in the class, and that it is reinforced over time. Even students that may appear savvy with a range of digital tools and platforms can still struggle to keep information protocols straight, and this work can be exhausting for them. While learning in the classroom should not be easy, an information architecture strategy for the classroom should enhance, rather than detract, from class instruction.

Read the TLI article here.

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