What is instant messaging and what does it have to do with teaching and learning?
As Jeffrey Branzburg, from techLearning, stated Instant Messaging, “in its simplest form, allows users to have instant, live, text-based “chats” with others over the Internet.” In order for IM to operate, all parties need to be on the service in order to communicate with each other. But when this is possible, this is a great service to have instant communication when calling on the phone is a problem, inconvenient, or not appropriate.
I am very familiar with IM’ing. I have used it for several years now to keep in touch with friends when we all went away to college. It would allow me to have conversations with several people at a time, which was a convenient way to multitask. If I talked to each one of those people on the phone it would have taken hours, but IM allowed me to accomplish the same thing all at once.
I have also had IM included as a requirement for some of my undergraduate courses. One of my professors required us to have chat room sessions every couple weeks out of class with our group. It was a very convenient way to talk about a topic without going to meet everyone in person. I have also used it for group meetings to begin to talk about a group project. IM’ing greatly helps with group communication. I would much rather send someone in my group an IM than call them up on the phone. And when everyone is online, it is much quicker than email. One of my professors created a SN to allow us to communicate with her on certain nights if we ever had any questions. Almost like extended office hours. It was really great because I was able to get real time answers to my questions and I was able to clarify any misunderstandings easier.
I think IM’ing is very helpful in teaching. It might be a little more beneficial for a high school or college professor to communicate with students or students to communicate with each other for class. But I will keep it in mind for use in elementary school, but parents must supervise their children to alleviate any cyber bullying. But IM’ing could be used for parent teacher conferences or questions, clarifying misunderstandings, or for group projects. With so many people having internet access on their phones they can almost have an internet connection enabled all the time. This could be very helpful for teachers who use this set-up like extended office hours. They can move about freely, instead of being attached to their computers for questions. IM is a great service that can be used in a variety of ways in education. There are some downfalls with security, but there are also ways to have internal networks. I think this is something to consider and keep in mind when teaching. Especially with technology being on the rise, the possibilities are endless.
Branzburg, J. (November 15, 2002). Using Instant Messenger Services. TechLearning. Retrieved April 12, 2009 from: