The Evolution of Campus Communication

Screen shot 2013-03-18 at 2.30.21 PMCompared to 40 years ago, it is an understatement to say that students this day and age have it a lot easier when it comes to communicating.  Over the past few decades, technology has advanced so drastically that it has altered the ways in which students interact, collaborate, and communicate with one another.

The evolution of technology can be seen in the ways we now communicate. In the past, if a student wanted to get a message to another person close-by, he would have to walk across campus to relay it and if the individual was not within walking distance, then “snail mail” would be required—a process that took forever.

With advancements over time and the widespread use of email in the 1990s, the time it took for someone to deliver and receive a message decreased.  In the late 1960s Ray Tomlinson, an MIT graduate, developed technologies for the military communications network called ARPANET.  He was later given the task of finding a way to send messages between two different computers—a very advanced concept at the time.  In October 1971, Tomlinson made history by successfully delivering a message from his own computer to another computer.  On December 3, 1992, the first text message was sent by Neil Papworth, an engineer working in the UK that read, “Merry Christmas”.  By the late 1990s, students no longer had to wait to hear something from someone via word-of-mouth, mail, or landline phone.  Emailing was beginning to be widely used among college students and campuses. With no walking required, a message was now sent with a push of a button over the Internet or cell phone.

The idea of communicating with people and getting a message to them in such a short amount of time (almost instantly) arguably would never have been conceived of in the past.  But since the inception of the mobile phone and Internet, the ways in which we communicate have greatly changed.  Students are not only able to directly connect and talk to someone, but also to a mass group of people all at the same time. For example, students can work by sending group texts, scheduling virtual meetings, conference calls, or chatting online. This method of communicating and collaborating is now considered to be the norm to many students.

It is rare to be on campus and not see a student communicating on a laptop or texting each other on their phones. According to a survey conducted by Nielsen in 2010, those between the ages of 18-24 send on average about 1,630 texts a month—around three texts per hour. A Pew Research Center survey showed that 88% of undergrads in college own a laptop computer. Students are more wired-in than ever and are in constant contact with one another through a variety of mediums.

Year over year, technology is changing the way we interact with one another.  While the old methods of communicating are still used, new breakthroughs have made it possible to do the same things, but more effectively and conveniently. With advancements in technology to come, what do you think the future of communicating will be like?

Screen shot 2013-02-01 at 2.33.24 PM David Huang is a junior at Tufts University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Economics and minor in Communications and Media Studies.

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