Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Virtual Classroom Tools: The chat

The first tool in this series of Virtual Classroom Tools is the one that every online teaching situation should utilize:  the chat function.  The chat can be used very successfully by the teacher in several ways.  The following is how I have used the chat effectively:

1.  The chat is a great way to provide feedback to the student(s) without interrupting the conversation.  The teacher should not write down what the student has said wrong, but what the student could have said.  For example, the student says, 'Yesterday, we discussed about trains and today I want to discuss about cars.'  In the chat, the live online teacher can write, 'Yesterday, we discussed trains and today I want to discuss cars.'  Later, the live online teacher can send this list to the student for them to keep and read through before the next lesson.

2.  The chat is a great way to provide clarification to lower level students.  If the student is saying a word and it is difficult to make out, the teacher can ask the student to write the word in the chat so that he/she can help them pronounce the word better.  The teacher can also do the same.  Since, listening is quite difficult for our students, the teacher can write words or phrases in the chat for the students to follow.  This allows the student to be comfortable.  One has to be careful not to write too much because the student can become dependent on the chat, however.

3.  When teaching writing, the chat can be used to have the student write a short email in the chat and then you can go over the writing through this tool.

4.  The chat can also be used in pairwork situations allowing students to do an exercise together and then presenting it to the rest of the class.

Regardless of how you use this tool, the chat can be easily copied and pasted and sent to the students' emails for future use.  One virtual classroom, Adobe Connect Pro, even allows teachers to email the chat from within the virtual classroom, which is quite convenient.

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