In virtual courses, communication and interaction with students is vital to ensure that the teaching-learning process occurs. There are many technological tools that can enhance interactions between virtual students and teachers.
This article will focus on how you can enhance your learning community through instant messaging.
The instant messaging system is a form of communication between people, based primarily on text, and that allows interaction through electronic devices such as computers or mobile phones.
Through an application you can see the contacts, states of other users, send and receive messages enriched with images, videos, audios, links. Groups can be created for specific conversations and above all there is mobility; since no matter where you are, just by having access to an internet connection you can interact with other people quickly and comfortably.
We must take into account that instant messaging applications are very common today, almost all of us have access to a mobile device and spend from a few minutes a day, to even hours; reading messages, sending photos, replying and interacting with family, friends, co-workers and more.
So if there is a lot of interaction and utility with these instant messaging applications, why not use them for teaching-learning processes as well?
Through these applications, learning communities can be created that support the work of a virtual course, where forums, videoconferences, interaction by mail, wikis, blogs and other very useful tools are potentially already developed so that together produce student learning.
For this to work, make sure:
- Know how to efficiently manage and use the instant messaging application or applications you use for the course. Those that are multiplatform are ideal, that is, you can use them from a mobile regardless of whether it is Android or IOS, as well as from a computer.
- Ask your students the degree of adequacy they have with the instant messaging application, ask if everyone can have access to it in some way. In case of having a group that is not so used to these applications, it is ideal to carry out a small training, which can be synthesized in a video where you explain how to use it.
- Define clear rules of participation, you will not want as a virtual teacher, to be receiving consultation messages on a Saturday at 3 in the morning. For this, it clearly defines which days and at what times it is recommended to use the application for consultations, explanations, interactions or dialogues by text.
- If you have several groups of students from different courses, it is important that you create a messaging group for each course, to avoid confusion in communication and interaction, also so that all the content that is shared is important for the learning that interests the student. student.
If you want a more social or cultural content interaction, to socialize your group of students, it is advisable to create independent groups, apart from the group where you interact with course content and apart from the group where you interact by socialization to create belonging between the students. students.
- Perform an active moderation action; when instant messaging groups are created, sometimes students share content that is not related to the course, such as memes or jokes; Although they are fun, they can lose the main objective of the group for the benefit of learning. In those occasions you must apply your power as a moderator to prosecute the group.
- Boost your written expression skills; When you use instant messaging in a virtual course, on many occasions you must communicate ideas or concepts in a certain number of characters. So it is important to know how to summarize, synthesize and express ideas concisely.
- It is not advisable to send messages with many characters, but to focus on short, clear and concise ideas. Depending on the messaging application you use, you can complement and enrich your ideas with a photo, a video, an audio or a link. Try to keep these always short.
In my experience, I tell you that if you send very long messages, they will appear as “read” by the student, but in reality they have only read a couple of lines and they do not know the full content.
- Check your messages; there is nothing worse than students interacting through the messaging application and that the teacher does not answer, especially if it is a short course, where the course ends first and the teacher does not communicate, it shows a lack of interest in the student.
From this point, it implies that you should know that applying instant messaging in progress may require additional time within the work of a virtual teacher.
It encourages the use of the application, making known the benefits of a faster and easier interaction and with the possibility of having feedback not only from the teacher but from all the students, from their perspectives.
This enriches the contents of the course. The use of messaging can be “advertised” on your wiki, course forums, video conferences and other forms of interaction.
If it is an instant messaging application that allows you to make phone calls, it is recommended that you clarify whether or not you will allow this option.
As a general recommendation, it is suggested to use only the text, recorded audio and sending material such as photos, videos or short audio modalities.
If you use an instant messaging application associated with a telephone number, as far as possible it is suggested to use the institutional number of the entity where you work, or try to have “another” number for your teaching tasks in virtual courses.
This measure is recommended to protect your privacy and even to have more order in your contacts and that you can better manage your messages.
It is important that when you form an instant messaging group for a virtual course, you define your objectives or functionalities, that is, define how you will use the application in your course. Here are some ideas:
Use the application to send notices related to the course, such as exam dates, videoconference schedules, homework delivery reminders, etc. Or emerging change data.
These applications are also often used to perform virtual reinforcement prior to exams or interaction activities similar to a forum. You can also create topic-specific discussions.
Use the app as a channel for learners to provide suggestions and recommendations for both course and content.
Use the application as a means to solve specific doubts, where both the teacher and any other student who can support can interact by making known their perspective of the consulted topic.
In relation to these last 4 ideas, if you plan to apply them to your course, it may be advisable to create groups by topic, that is, you create a group where specific doubts about the course are resolved and another group where you send messages and reminders. Everything will depend on the number of students you have to control.
As you have seen, you can use instant messaging applications in your virtual courses.
You generate credits to apply for the Master’s Degree in Management and Production of e-Learning at Galileo University. Imagine all the opportunities to which you can apply with the generation of new knowledge, accompanied by modern tools and technologies.