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Instant Messaging

Overview

Teenagers have the reputation of popularizing instant messaging. Abbreviations, codes, and obsessive connectivity are typical images of IM users. As some of the articles in the resource section indicate, this is not a true image of IM's usefulness in business or learning.

IM is popular for two reasons - it's easy to use and it allows for instant communication (a big concern in our "right now" society). Isolation is described as being a significant concern for elearners...using IM can increase the sense of connection to others.

This spring we did an online course that used streaming video. This is typically seen as a passive activity - one way communication from the instructor to the student. To address this, we employed IM. As I would present, students could ask questions via IM. Initially we were concerned that the streaming video buffering time would make it difficult to ask/answer questions in context. We found, however, that IM and streaming video worked together very well.

IM is a very effective tool for instructors and students to communicate. For example, virtual office hours allow an instructor to be available for student questions at set times each week. Questions and comments can be exchanged in real time - without the expenses of most collaborative software.

Resources

Instant Messenger is not your enemy
"Instant Messenger (IM) is a huge corporate tool, yet it is rarely mentioned in corporate productivity or learning plans."

Instant Messaging for Corporate Collaboration
"In the last couple of years, instant messaging has hit the mainstream. There are currently more than 131 million users of the public instant messaging networks, according to IDC, with America Online leading the way with more than 100 million users of its AOL Instant Messenger. With every copy of the upcoming Microsoft Windows XP release and every AOL subscription now including at least one instant messaging client, usage figures are expected to mushroom in the years ahead."

Hav U 4gotten IM?
Good overview article of new trends in IM.

YakSpuiT
"YakSpuiT is a learning robot written in PERL and is Available on MSN Messenger. He has learned Over 15,000 things and continues to learn more things every day. He can also provide things like weather lookups, dictionary lookups, and evern stock lookups. Just send him a message if you want to chat!"

Active Buddy
"Interactive agents are software "robots" that live on Instant Messenger contact lists, or are launched via Web interface or on private messaging services. Interactive agents "chat" with messaging users and deliver content, entertainment, and services in a conversational, personalized way, just as a user would expect in the messaging context. ActiveBuddy's free BuddyScript™ SDK (Software Development Kit) is used to create interactive agents that are deployed with BuddyScript Server via any platform that supports interactive text messaging. ActiveBuddy's technology is built for high-performance and is capable of handling hundreds of queries per second."

AOL Instant Messenger

MSN Messenger

ICQ

Yahoo Messenger

PalTalk
The next stage beyond messaging? I've used this with students and colleagues...very useful.

Trillian
"Trillian is everything you need for instant messaging. Connect to ICQ®, AOL Instant Messenger(SM), MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and IRC in a single, sleek and slim interface."
Neat tool.

   

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License