Chat is a much maligned and under-utilised online tool. Most people with some experience can readily see the social value of using online chat, but it can also be a very powerful teaching tool. Below are some strategies that demonstrate chat's versatility..
  • Introductions
  • Brainstorming
  • 1) fast and furious Topic: Online Education should be encouraged because........
    2) orderly turn-taking Topic: List all the reasons you can think of why RTOs should be audited.

  • Word Association (as an ice breaker)
  • Short Discussions (5 minutes)
    • choose, or have the group choose a topic
    • have a 5 minute freewheeling discussion on the topic
    • after 5 minutes ask for a volunteer to summarise the discussion
    • choose a new topic and repeat
      (idea borrowed from Gilly Salmon)
  • Projecting URLs
    • allows participants to chat while viewing source material under discussion (all can project URLs in WebCT)

  • Roleplay

    1) Accident Scene

    Possible Roles:

    • police officer
    • driver 1
    • driver 2
    • witness
    • ambulance officer

    2) School Principal's Office

    Possible Roles:

    • principal
    • supervising teacher
    • trainee teacher

  • Breaking into Smaller Groups
  • Use in conjunction with forums

A Couple of Moderating Tips:

  1. though some may consider it impolite I use CAPITAL LETTERS TO GAIN EVERYONE'S ATTENTION. So if you see me typing in capitals please finish your message and await further input from the facilitator.
  2. for serious or more focused sessions - once a chat (lesson) has begun it is best if only the facilitator greets any latecomers; likewise if people leave early. A stream of hellos or goodbyes can be quite disruptive to the flow of a chat (lesson). Greetings and leave-taking is best done using the private message function.