I’ve had several faculty in the last couple of weeks comment to me that students are getting burned out on videoconferencing. I have also experienced a drop-off in students’ willingness to keep their cameras on throughout my class which makes me wonder if they’re: 1) even there or 2) just tired of having to appear engaged (or not bored) for hours upon hours a day. Let’s face it, having a camera in your face during a meeting is pretty exhausting. I like to take a break during some meetings too so I get that my students are probably feeling the same way.

There is another feature embedded in Canvas that may be worth exploring – the Chat room. In Canvas this feature is added by going to Settings > Navigation > drag Chat up to your list of active features at the top, click Save.

I don’t know of too many faculty who use this method to communicate with their students or as a method to allow students to communicate with each other, which is surprising given that chatting or instant messaging is our students’ preferred method of communication. Whether you’re teaching synchronously, asynchronously, remote or online, the Chat feature is one worth exploring for several reasons:

  1. Access – students can send a message when a thought or comment is top of mind.
  2. Engagement – any student in the class can respond which means that even the quiet students are likely to participate.
  3. Security – would-be hackers cannot bomb a Chat session.
  4. Privacy – students don’t have to have their cameras on to participate.
  5. Attendance – if you don’t use the attendance feature in Canvas, Chat may provide a means for collect this information.
  6. Office hours – a very user-friendly environment for quickly answering a student’s questions.
  7. Students like it – an informal survey of students published in The Teaching Professor showed that 2/3rds of students preferred Chat over Discussion Boards.

As you decide what you will carry over to next term, consider giving Chat a try and let me know what you think!

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One thought on “Students Love To Chat

  1. I used the chat function extensively throughout the Spring term, to check for understanding, to pose a question to the class and generate (a little) discussion, to get their questions and concerns, etc. It did take some getting used to, to be able to monitor the chat and the other elements of zoom, but I found it a useful tool.


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