Well, first off, my apologies to Meg Worley, who appears to have a justifiable complaint that she was misquoted by the Times.
Two interesting and to my mind legitimate issues have come up in the wake of the discussion of email between students and professors. The first is cases where students use outside email addresses to contact professors. I’m not so worried about telling a student that the email email@example.com is not especially professional. These lessons can be learned at a later date, in the school of hard knocks. But I do find that I’m inclined to skip over or even entirely miss emails from students that come from outside addresses that have odd pseudonyms: on a quick glance, they look like spam or at the least low priority communications. This is especially true when the subject line is something generic like “Hello”.
The second issue that I find affects me is receiving papers via email. As my students know from frustrating experience, papers I get via email tend to get separated from the main pack of what I’m grading. I tend to have a harder time tracking such papers, getting them back, or finding them when I need to. They may be on one of three computers in two different locations. Yet sometimes it’s the only convenient way for a student to submit a paper to me, so I’m not going to categorically insist that the papers be handed to me. I have one suggestion that I ask for papers submitted in .pdf format and then make all marks on the pdf copies as well and return them via email. That’s an interesting idea. I’m going to consider it. It will take shifting some work habits, and of course that’s at the root of all this discussion: when are professors obligated to transform the way they work to accomodate a new set of habits and patterns, and when are they justified in demanding conformity to their own customary practices?