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Making the Most of the Chat Room Used in Distance Education

written by: Tania Faria•edited by: Heather Marie Kosur•updated: 12/8/2010

The use of chat room in distance education has become an important function for online learning. Not only does it allow students to communicate in real time to discuss the topics of the course, but it allows easier access to the teacher in order to communicate and clarify topics of discussion.

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    Making the Most of Distance Education

    Distance education is any program or course offered in a nontraditional classroom. This can include online courses, telecommuting courses and video courses. Where these can be online, they can also be held at local community colleges, High schools and Community Centers. This is important to note because it means that not all distance learners have access to the internet at home. Utilizing internet resources for distance education can provide a great benefit to the students and teachers but steps must be taken to ensure this is done in the most effective way possible. Thus, the use of chat room in distance education has become an important tool for online learning.

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    What Students Can Do to Help

    One of the most important things to remember, if the student is in class or in a distance education program, is to commit to the education being offered and provided. This may take the form of making time to log in or hitting the library if there are scheduled discussion hours. Students should feel free and encouraged to start chat room discussion times that meet their needs. This may involve talking to the rest of the class and seeing if anyone is available at specific times that small groups may be available. Scheduled chats initiated by students often have better attendance than anything the teacher has set up.

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    What Teachers Can Do to Help

    Set chat room goals and quotas. Students will sometimes need more guidance. Set regular times for the class to meet on the chat room, and, if they are unable, there may be another way to encourage participation.

    If there is an option to close the chat room during certain hours, don’t. Some class software includes an option to close office hours. This is so that students do not end up in the chat room entirely alone. If the teacher leaves it open for all hours, it may allow the students to connect with each other. Also, there is also often a method of checking the chat log that may be very useful if a student does not have access to more traditional email.

    Create office hours and stick to them. If there is a time that the teacher is always available online, they will not lack for things to do and questions being asked of them. This will invite the students to the teacher and open communication between them. This also allows the teacher to meet with several students at once in a secure and confidential environment.

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    What Everyone Can Do

    Be available. If there is a student reaching out for a slightly inconvenient time, attempt to accommodate them with your availability. The students will be more likely to retain the information if they are working well together. As a teacher, availability is key to the student’s success. They may need assistance with various topics of discussion in the class that a teacher’s expertise is required. Because online chat rooms are done in real time, their use is a good method to help both the student and teacher understand the assignments and where students are really having difficulty.

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    Working Together

    Technology is a cold and lifeless thing. It is a tool that is used to facilitate a great number of things including education. Education is based, in part, on a level of interaction between students and teachers. Students and teachers need to work together to make the most of the use of chat room in distance education to allow for a truly rich learning experience.

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    Resources

    • http://fcit.usf.edu/distance/chap8.htm
    • http://www.distancelearningnet.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-distance-learning/