Hi, I'm Ruth Ann Anderson from the Art Department. I teach online through primarily using live Chat, through WebCT. And I've been doing this for about 8 years now, and I absolutely love it. I find that live chat is immediate, it's interactive. It can be attended from anywhere, somebody's home, the library computer, a classroom computer. It's available, it's wonderful.
Live chat is a discussion time that I use to divide a large class and when I'm saying large, I'm talking 40 students or more. My classes are typically 75 students. I can take this large online class and divide it into smaller discussion groups. Live chat offers live interaction, not only with the faculty member, but also with other students.
My experience is that students become very engaged with the learning process through this peer interaction. Not only learning from each other, but also contributing to each other's evolution. In other words, live chat is an active learning environment.
Live chat reduces the fear of peer judgment that's so often found in a physical classroom over your appearance, your economic status, your social status or whatever. In other words, online classes level their learning playing field with live chat adding the interaction necessary to engage comprehension.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, live chat creates a learning in a context familiar to this technology-enamored generation. Students quickly become familiar with and enjoy the live chat format. They become motivated to contribute to each others learning, and they develop a loyalty to their group--developing a kind of a sense of community that additionally encourages contribution, interaction and consequently learning.
Students ever-increasingly inform synergistic, critical thinking tends to stimulate the student to want to help make their group discussions the best even though there is really no competition intended between groups that's the sense of community sometimes tends to create that. I also find that by learning from each other and decentralizing the basic knowledge, as in faculty only, it enhances learning and develops critical thinking, so that students become enlightened witnesses.
Learning the language of mass media by using mass media combines learning objectives with learning tools.