Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Encouraging Student Backchat

As I spend time refreshing my class wiki for 2010, I considered how I could build in a live private chat gadget that would allow students another way to communicate with me. It needed to be embedded in our wiki, be private but easily accessible for the students, and myself when receiving the messages.

Our class wiki is the centre of our learning, as our homepage I wanted an embedded instant message chat function that was private yet simple. Here are the two free chat options I could find that fitted my requirements. I have not tested these under fire yet but time will tell.

Google Talk Chatback is my personal choice but that is because I am a avid user of Google products. You need to sign up to Google Chat, an instant message service, that is where you will receive your messages. Mine pop-up automatically on my iGoogle homepage which is ALWAYS open, but there are other options. When the person is viewing your wiki or blog page, they will see a small but smart chat badge that tell your "online status." When the visitor clicks on it a pop-up chat window appears for them to send you a message. What I really like about this system is that your visitors (my students) can only chat to you (or me). It is private, and another way to communicate with me within our main wikispaces learning environment.

I also considered it's possibility as a student team polling system, and I'm sure other creative educators have come up with interesting classroom uses for it.

Another option is Meebo Me which gives you a chat window embedded into your wiki or blog page. With a click you can also get the window to pop-up. You do however need to sign into Meebo each day. They also have a handy toolbar gadget that allows you to connect with a click and get live messages while working in other windows. Unfortunately the toolbar download is only available for PC.  Meebo also shows your status, but has a nice feature where visitors can send you messages even when you are offline.

Photo of boy next to speaker:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/ / CC BY 2.0