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Module Eight: Chat Rooms in the Classroom
 

Chat Rooms in the ClassroomChat rooms offer a space within the classroom or course for synchronous information interchange. A chat room allows for the exchange information and ideas in a more spontaneous setting.  Many course management chat tools as well as online chat options offer instructors and students the ability to archive the interchange for later review and evaluation. Chat rooms provide a sense of anonymity for the student which can help some students gain confidence in their contributions to the interchange.

 

You can also use chat rooms as a back-channel in your classroom to encourage ongoing dialog throughout the class period. Back channeling is a common tool or network that provides real-time online interactions simultaneously with a video, auditory or live lecture. Some possible tools for back-channel chatting include Twitter, Instant Messaging (Yahoo, Google, Facebook Group), Chatzy, Edmodo, and TodaysMeet. In addition to stimulating discussion and sharing ideas, the tools can also provide students with a place for note taking, recording questions for later discussion or offering new directions for the future.

 

Chat rooms can be a very useful tool during group work as students share information related to their roles and responsibilities as well as discussions related to the overall goals of a project or group assignment.  Having an online meeting arena offers students a place to meet virtually without having to actually find a physical location that works for everyone in the group.

 

Chat rooms do not come without some challenges. Discussions can move too quickly for the followers to have time to grasp fully all of the information being posted. Depending on the Internet connection individual postings may experience delays in posting, while the bulk of the discussion moves forward or takes on a new direction. Another way to prevent delays is to keep postings short and to the point. Since most chat rooms do not have the option for multiple threads, you should work to keep the students on topic to prevent errant postings within a conversation.  

 
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