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Strategies for Using Chat as a Communication Tool


Some coping stategies for monitoring and conducting Online text Chat include:

  1. Be Prepared:
    Good preparation and structure is critical to the success of your chat session. Some instructors use pre-typed questions or short comments that they cut and paste into the chat program from their word processor.

  2. Limit the Number of Participants:
    Schedule several sessions on the same topic and have students sign up. Conducting small group chats is more manageable than chatting with a large group. Try to limit the small groups to 5-6 students. After each group's session, post the transcripts to a Web page or your class asynchronous discussion forum so everyone can see all the conversations. Reading multiple versions of chat sessions on the same topic is a valuable study tool for some students.

  3. Have Definite Starting and Ending Times:
    Advertise your chat sessions well in advance so your students have time to arrange their schedules to be able to attend. This will also give them time to prepare for the discussion and think of 2 or 3 questions they would like to ask. Limit each session to 30 minutes and cut it off when the time is up. Chatting is a high intensity activity, and it is difficult to stay focused for long periods.

  4. Limit the Topic of Conversation:
    Limit the chat session to one specific topic and stick to it. Students must come prepared to discuss one topic only. This lends structure to the discussion and helps the chat session stay focused.

  5. Help Late Comers:
    If one or two students join the chat session after it has started, take a moment to orient them to the discussion by summarizing the current thread of conversation. This will give everyone a break and allow stragglers to catch up.

  6. Teach Chat Etiquette:
    Publish a list of protocols or rules for your students to follow. This will help maintain order in the discussion and facilitate clear communication.

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