Sure, chatting with our classmates during the lesson wasn’t exactly allowed when we were little kids sitting in the classroom, but times are changing and so is the face of learning. Numerous studies have shown that online synchronous chat conversations in virtual learning environments actually improve students‘ thinking processes and self-reflection through cooperative learning and peer mentoring (Krüger 2006).
In other words, chatting allows the users to help each other while studying the material, to solve each other’s problems and, simply, to understand.
In Training-Online.eu, students can now use the option of online chatting with other users enrolled in the same course. These users all appear in the same chat group and together, they can answer each other’s questions, correct each other’s steps and talk about the lesson’s content in general. The messages a user sends are delivered even when the other user is not online at the moment; the other user can read them once they get back to the computer.
Collaboration helps content adoption
In this way, users are being motivated to collaborate, which is a very desirable effect indeed. Let’s say you are a business owner who wants their business to succeed – just imagine how important good relationships among your employees are! But chatting can be beneficial for students as well, as it provides an opportunity to quickly react and add new points of view. In its online handbook for Teaching and Learning Online, University of Massachusetts encourages both students and teachers to invite guests to participate in chat-room discussions as “adding new insights will stimulate more discussion”.
Users can also use chat to ask their teacher questions, which can be helpful especially for shy students
A 2016 study conducted in Thailand shows that chat applications “help Thai students who often prefer (…) to communicate with their teachers in virtual worlds instead of face-to-face world” (Kanthawongs et al. 2016). This form of communication which doesn’t require direct personal contact might help students who are normally too shy to ask questions and prefer not to fully understand the subject rather than drawing attention to themselves in front of the class (let’s face it, a lot of us carry a school-days trauma which prevents us from asking things we otherwise really want to know in front of other people). For introverted students, using chat can also be a way to give honest feedback and express emotions: “students can informally or formally connect with their instructors using stickers, (…) and emoticons to explore their own feeling without being threatened by a real face-to-face situation” (in Kanthawongs et al. 2016).
Live chat or face-to-face communication?
We are not trying to suggest that live chatting should replace face-to-face communication with classmates, teachers or co-workers. We believe, however, that the chat function can be used as an augment of techniques that are already used in traditional classroom as well as online teaching. The instructor can, for example, start a debate during a videoconference in Training-Online.eu’s Virtual Classroom and then potentially let the introverts join the discussion later in a chat group.
In Training-Online.eu, we believe that online chat is also a very powerful tool to help the students learn quicker. As the website Elearningindustry.com suggests, “dialogic interaction reinforces concepts by helping students solidify and elaborate upon key concepts from the subject matter or reading material”. That is to say, by talking about the subject matter with their classmates or co-workers, users are memorizing the content of the lesson very quickly. Also, don’t you agree that sometimes when you are not sure about something, reaching out for a piece of your friend’s advice is the quickest way to solve your problem? By letting the users chat with their classmates and co-workers, Training-Online.eu hopes to simplify the process of learning for them and to make studying more appealing to them at the same time.
Chat is already standard to support collaboration
Last but not least, it is important not to forget that whether we like it or not, chatting as a means of communication is already out there. In a 2017 survey conducted among U.S. workers, 43 % of respondents said they used instant messaging applications to communicate at work (ReportLinker 2017). According to the same survey, almost half of respondents say chatting enhances collaboration among workers. When moving from workplaces to schools, we can observe that the demand for chatting with fellow students is even higher: in 2017, the website CampusTechnology.com published a survey according to which 94 % of students want to use their cell phones for academic purposes, such as to access a digital textbook, take pictures of lecture slides, Google answers or ask their friends for an answer. Live chat is a technology the employees and students know and use anyway, so why not use it to make learning easier and more effective for them?
Start chatting with your users today!
Feldman, Robert. Zucker, Donna. Teaching and Learning Online: Communication, Community, and Asssessment. A Handbook for UMass Faculty. University of Massachusetts, USA. Available at https://www.umass.edu/oapa/sites/default/files/pdf/handbooks/teaching_and_learning_online_handbook.pdf.
Kanthawongs, Penjira. Limsuthiwanpoom, Tassaneenart. Kanthawongs, Penjuree. Suwandee, Sasithorn. 2016. Exploring students‘ e-learning effectiveness through the use of Line chat application. Paper presented at the 13th International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (CELDA 2016), Bangkok University, Thailand. Available at https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED571387.pdf.
Kelly, Rhea. CampusTechnology.com. 2017. Survey: 94% of Students Want to Use Their Cell Phones in Class. Available at https://campustechnology.com/articles/2017/12/12/students-want-to-use-their-cell-phones-in-class.aspx.
Krüger S. 2006. Students‘ experiences of e-learning: a virtual ethnography into blended online learning. Paper presented at the Networked Learning Conference, Lancaster University, UK, 10-12 April. Available at http://www.networkedlearningconference.org.uk/past/nlc2006/abstracts/pdfs/P22%20Kruger.pdf.
ReportLinker. 2017. Can We Chat? Instant Messaging Apps Invade the Workplace. Available at https://www.reportlinker.com/insight/instant-messaging-apps-invade-workplace.html.
Stanford, Daphne. 2016. How to motivate students online: what works and what doesn’t. Available at https://elearningindustry.com/motivate-students-online-works-doesnt.