ION | Illinois Online Network

Strategies for Using Chat as a Communication Tool

Some pedagogic uses for Online text Chat:

  1. Oral quizzes:
    Have your students meet with you individually online and quiz them on course content. You can assess how well they know the material in just a few minutes of questions and answers. Using chat you can explore depth as well as breadth of your students' knowledge and understanding of the concepts. Since your students sign up for the date and time of their own quizzes (you can provide an online or paper sign up sheet), you are giving them some control and responsibility for their learning experience. This supports a very student-centered approach to teaching.

  2. "Debriefing" exercises:
    Do you sometimes worry that one or more of your students did not write their own term paper? Access to the Web has unfortunately made it possible for students to cut, paste and virtually lift entire papers at the touch of a computer key. You can use chat to debrief individual students after they turn in their assignment if you suspect plagiarism. Ask them questions about the assignment to determine if the work is really their own.

  3. Transcripts can be a Study Tool:
    After each chat session, post the transcripts to a Web page so your students can reread the conversations that took place during the chat. This offers your students an opportunity to review the discussion that transpired and gives those who were not present a chance to know what took place.

  4. Language Study:
    Use chat transcripts for grammar practice in language courses. For example, the dialog can be rewritten from direct to reported speech, or sentences can be analyzed for grammar, spelling, or vocabulary practice. This provides your students language practice on authentic texts since the conversations are real and the students themselves are the participants.

  5. Brainstorming Sessions:
    Students brainstorm as warm up activities for writing assignments. This can function as a pre-writing phase for the rough draft of a paper.

  6. Small Group Work:
    Break your class into small groups of 3-5 students and have them schedule chat sessions to work together on a project. They can meet online at the onset of the project to discuss the assignment, determine a strategy for working together, divvy up the work, and brainstorm ideas.

  7. Guest Speakers:
    Invite a guest to your course chat session (an outside expert, another instructor, etc.) and tell your students to come prepared to ask the guest questions. This activity provides your students with information about real world experiences concerning the course subject matter.

  8. Virtual Office Hours:
    Set weekly times where you are available online so your students can contact you about the class. If you anticipate more than 5 students wanting to attend your virtual office hours, schedule time slots they can sign up for so the chat sessions don't become crowded.