Online Chats – Saco

November 13th, 2011

Online chats are person-to-person (or groups of people) synchronous communications that take place over the internet. These conversations may be conducted with text, audio, or video and there are many software and web-based tools for this. Some terms used to refer to this chats include computer-mediated communication (CMC), internet relay chat (IRC), or instant messaging (IM). When a microphone and/or camera is used, these chats may be referred to as audio or video conferencing.  Typically a participant in a chat is identified by a screen name, and the entries in the dialogue are date and time stamped. Many chat tools allow transcripts of text chats to be archived and audio and video chats to be recorded. Multiple user chats are often used as backchannels in meetings, conferences, and classrooms to allow participants to comment on the proceedings in real time.


  1. Bgreenstone
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:32 | #1

    I’m wondering if any of you have tried chats or backchannels in your classroom. Was it a distraction or a help?

  2. SMWest1
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:33 | #2

    I use Facebook chat to communicate with my kids at school! You do not have to be their friend to do this using the messaging feature. It’s a great way to remind them about missed assignments or an upcoming quiz. I figure they check their Facebook accounts more than their planners soooo, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!!

  3. Swells
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:33 | #3

    looking for ways to bring meaningful use of online chats to my math classes

  4. Amy T.
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:33 | #4

    I’ve used chats in different situations. I began online chatting in 1991 in Austria with IRC. I’ve used moodle chats with students, and I like to be part of each chat, and I like being able to archive them. I skype with family. I also use a backchannel chat regularly.

  5. Don
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:34 | #5

    As a non-teacher,how do I help teachers use these tools in their classroom at the high school level

    • SMWest1
      November 14th, 2011 at 11:50 | #6

      Start out simple, like having the kids simply record themselves answering questions, speaking a language, playing an instrument, etc. Have them save the file and email it to the teacher. This is a really cool way to start using technology differently. Our band director, for example, had her kids create iMovies to record themselves playing for an assessment. I went into her class and showed the kids how to make a short iMovie clip to get the process started.

  6. Aleijonguth
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:34 | #7

    I think texting and online chats can be a powerful tools for teaching, I have been to conferences where we all used the same hashtag for our tweets, the presenter captured it all on the screen and we all saw a running commentary of what is being presented.

    • Amy T.
      November 14th, 2011 at 11:41 | #8

      I agree; twitter as a backchannel has helped me as someone who can’t get to conferences. I can still participate and collect great resources.

  7. SMWest1
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:40 | #9

    I logged onto Skype to communicate with students while I was on family leave last school. A few of my students have my Skype ID and were able to ask me questions with regards to the assignments while I was not there. It was great and I felt the kids learned a lot from the digital experience!

  8. Amy T.
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:44 | #10

    ***iChat allows you to record and keep transcripts***

  9. Amy T.
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:48 | #11

    I have used webinars with students when I have not been able to be there in person; we used text and voice chats.

  10. Amy t.
    November 14th, 2011 at 11:55 | #12

    I’ve used Titanpad for a backchannel with teachers in workshops and with HS students.

  11. Stephanie Tarr
    November 14th, 2011 at 12:05 | #13

    My frustration has to do with internet filters and the lack of being able to do things like this within my class.

  12. jjs
    November 14th, 2011 at 12:10 | #14

    Google Docs lets students do a chat sidebar. Simply by sharing a document, students are able to have an instant messaging app running.

  13. jjs
    November 14th, 2011 at 12:22 | #15

    Homebound students can benefit greatly from video chat!!!

  14. Bgreenstone
    November 14th, 2011 at 12:29 | #16

    We had a discussion about backchannels in the last group. How do we create a culture of civility when it comes to responding to each other in a chat?

  15. Olga Laplante
    November 14th, 2011 at 12:45 | #17

    I liked very much the idea of silent conversations. I think that in a way it’s a game and may have appeal to students just because of that.

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