Despite numerous studies that show that students prefer instant messaging to email, initiating communication with students via IM is not necessarily the best way to go, according to the editors of The Edutech Report.
Students say they like to reach each other via IM. They might sometimes want to reach a faculty member that way, but it is not likely that they would want faculty to contact them in this manner. Students use IM to achieve a kind of intimacy with only some correspondents, and it is not necessarily the best mode of communication for all situations.
The popularity of social networking does not mean that this is the forum where students expect to encounter their faculty or deans.
Faculty might want to establish days and times when they will use IM. Blogs and wikis provide alternatives that are more conversational than email but less intrusive than IM. Experimentation is appropriate, but with the need to respect the recipients’ evolving preferences.
Edutech Responds: Communicating with Students. The Edutech Report. January 2008, p. 8.