Why do your students use emoji?

Do your students use emoji when they post messages on your class discussion boards? Do they sprinkle smileys into their emails? If you’ve taught a class in the last ten years, you probably answered yes to both questions. So, why do they do it?


Maybe they do it because they are used to miscommunication with their text-based communications. There are entire websites dedicated to documenting text messages gone wrong, misconstrued emails and essay fails. We all have experience reading and writing messages that serve to confuse rather than clarify.

Writing is tough.

Communications experts claim that at a large percentage our of communication is non-verbal, which means that with each written message we send we are only signaling a percentage of our intended ideas.  Until someone invents a sarcasm font, people will rely on emoji in an attempt to convey these nonverbal cues that are so vital to effective communication.


At VoiceThread, we don’t believe that a smiley face can replace an actual face. Smiley faces can’t express tone of voice. They can’t gesture the way a human can. They can’t control the pace and cadence of the spoken word. Text can’t replace you and it can’t replace your students either, no matter how many emoji they use. 😉

You don’t need to be an expert in paralanguage and kinesics to know that face-to-face communication is more effective than text. Critics of online classes usually point to this as proof that face-to-face classes are a better choice than learning online. The good news is that today we no longer have to choose between “online” classes and “face-to-face” classes. With VoiceThread, you can create an online, face-to-face class and reclaim that missing 80%.