Imagine you have a secure online classroom environment to use with your face-to-face K-12 students. It has many features including a chat room. The chat may be opened or closed at any time you desire, or it may be left open all the time. It always keeps transcripts and students must be logged in to the class as themselves to participate.
Would you use the chat?
If you would, how would you use it? What other tools or methods would you incorporate into your use of the chat?
If you would not use it, why? What tools would you use instead?

Feel free to include real examples or hypothetical ones.

Tags: chat, 2.0, TappedIn, blended, blended learning, classroom, environment, learning, online, online learning environment, More…teaching methods

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This might be a great tool in a "computer class" where kids need help and there is only one teacher. They could IM each other to ask for help. This would increase the number of people kids could turn to when they need help. It would also help keep kids in their seats - which is a real problem for me since my lab is really really small and it makes me crazy when kids get up and down. And the transcripts would keep them honest.

Does this exist? Do you or anyone else know of anything like this. I think I could use the rendezvous feature of iChat (I have a Mac lab), but I don't know if it would keep transcripts.
Actually, the chat feature of Moodle does exactly this. I am debating implications for use in my classroom and I am also teaching a Moodle class and want to see how teachers from other subject areas might want to use the chat, or if they may choose other tools instead.

In my Mac lab I (sometimes) use Apple Remote Desktop as a similar solution. I have the students send a message to the administrator computer, which is attached to my projector. I usually use it just to organize who asked which question first, but that could work with your suggestion with students reading the board and responding to each other through the admin computer.
I just tried to use it with my 7th graders and it didn't go so well. I used iChat and with the bonjour feature. Some did use it to get some help from me and each other, but mostly they just fooled around with it.
Not that fooling around can't have its value...

I am concerned that introducing a chat would have similar consequences for me. I think I might first introduce it as a free time activity so that they can play with it for a while, then I would start to introduce specific objectives for them to accomplish. If all else fails and they refuse to get anything accomplished while using the chat, I can always take it away and try again later.

I think this might work because I introduced my Apple Remote Desktop method to my students beforehand. I told that I expected them to only post their name, the row they were sitting in, and their question. I let them play with it off task for a few minutes, and then I pointed out to them that their computer number was displayed next to their comments on the screen. The students who were being most distracting looked a little sheepish and then got back to work. We have spent a lot of time this year discussing appropriate use of technology during class time, and I think they might finally get it.
Yes, I'm sure I could have done this better. It was kind of a whim and I just wanted to see what would happen. I also tried it with my most difficult class. I may try it again with a class that is more on task. I have ARD and I was trying to figure out how to chat the way you describe and I couldn't figure it out. I can only chat with one person at a time. How can they chat with me?
If you have it so the ARD icon appears in the menu bar (top right by the time etc.) it appears as a little pair of binoculars. They can click on that and and choose "Send Message to Administrator" (or something like that) and it gives them a little box to type their message and then push send. Then their message appears in a new window in your ARD.
Such a chat environment could be very useful for collaborative story/poetry writing. For the most part, though, I wonder if there aren't better collaborative tools for in class writing.

Another possible use, especially if small groups of students could be physically separated from one another (different labs/classrooms/buildings), would be for each group to have a chat presence. The groups would need to interact via chat to solve a problem, overcome a misunderstanding, or in some other way develop a collaborative approach to a problem neither group can complete solve on their own.

I would want such a chat space to be flexible enough for the teacher to invite others into the space. They could be experts in a given field of study, other classrooms studying similar topics, or students at a different grade/ability level for mentoring partnerships.
Perhaps students from different locales could use it in conjunction with a wiki or Google docs or some area where they could work asynchronously, but on the same information.
Matt and Skip,
I really like the idea of inviting experts into the classroom via chat. I can already think of some of my colleagues who would jump at the opportunity to do this. Do you think that text chat is being made irrelevant for these purposes by programs like Skype, or do you think that the wait time and the ability to review the conversations would make up for the need to type?
Skype can be used for conferencing. I think that perhaps the best media would depend on the intended purpose of the conference.
I DO have this and I DO use it with my students, grades 5-8 every single day. It seems that the most common way we use it is to share links---instead of having to spell the link out, we copy/paste into chat.

One of my "ah ha" ways to use the chat is to use it as a brainstorm--ever have to tell a class to SLOW DOWN a brain storm? How counter-intuitive to a productive brainstorming session??!! We chat our ideas in one room--no one is talking over anyone else and we can even save the chat. Corrections/clarifications can be made as needed and kids FLY when they read the other kids' suggestions! We keep the brainstorms positive and wait to do the sorting later (as you do).

We also frequently share files of nearly all types this way. You'd be SURPRISED at the number of kids, reluctant to ask a question out loud, who will privately chat the teacher for a good questions/conversations.

Finally, one of my favorite ways to use chat is when a kid stays home, s/he can still be connected to the group work and not have to fall behind or let their peers down. Honestly, you'd be amazed how my students will get on to work during crucial times of the day--even when they are on vacation! It's been tough to get parents to understand this tool for education.

Heck students will think of a question to ask me or another student when we're busy, but the question is waiting for us when we are available--do you have students who have burning questions that forget them as soon as you're available? ;)

Chat is a must-have for us. I can't imagine our school without chat. We'd be TERRIBLY inconvenienced without it. Heck, we can even call in other students from other schools for help (but most of the time, those end up being social calls). That's ok. They're networking across distance!!!
What great ideas, Ginger! I am hoping to get chat in my classroom next fall, and these are perfect examples of how chat can be used within the classroom. Thank you.

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