Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Synchronous Text Communication

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Synchronous communication is communication taking place at the same time.

  • More specifically, synchronous text communication tools allow two or more users to communicate via typed text messages in real-time.
  • Apart from the text chat, there are others synchronous communication tools:
    • Audio-conferencing: allows two or more users to collaborate via real-time speech.
    • Video-conferencing: two or more users to collaborate via real-time interaction that includes both video and sound.
    • Whiteboards: they are the graphical equivalent of synchronous chat tools. They allow multiple users to work on collaborative drawings in real-time.
    • Multi-user domain Object Oriented environments (MOOS): MOOs are multi-user virtual environments in which users often control avatar (computer-generated actors) that move through the virtual world, interacting and communicating via speech generated from user-typed instructions.


Some people believe that synchronous communication is a popular technology in online education, and that the merging of Web and audio/video delivery formats over time will effectively virtualize education on a global scale.


Some examples


http://www.irc.com/

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a form of real-time Internet chat or synchronous conferencing. It is mainly designed for group communication in discussion forums called channels, but also allows one-to-one communication via private message, as well as chat and data transfers via direct client-to-client.


http://ar.messenger.yahoo.com/chatrooms

Yahoo! Messenger is an advertisement-supported instant messaging client. It also offers PC-PC, PC-Phone and Phone-to-PC service, file transfers, webcam hosting, text messaging service, and chat rooms in various categories.


http://webmessenger.msn.com/

Windows Live Messenger is an instant messaging client. In addition to its basic functionality and general capability as an instant messaging client, Windows Live Messenger offers the following features: sharing folders, PC-to-phone calls, interoperability, offline messaging, games and applications.


http://www.icq.com

ICQ is an instant messaging computer programme. ICQ features include sending text messages, offline support, multi-user chats, free daily-limited SMS sending, resumable file transfers, greeting cards,multiplayer games and a searchable user directory.


http://www.skype.com

Skype is software that allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet. Additional features include instant messaging,file transfer and video conferencing.


Possibilities for learning and teaching

  • Students can negotiate meaning, which is a cognitive process that speakers use to understand one another better, that is, to increase the comprehensibility of language input.
  • Learners have the chance to produce output as well.
  • In addition, negotiation of meaning may also raise speakers' awareness of target language forms. Speakers may be alerted that their speech is inaccurate.
  • Chats give students the possibility to interact with native speakers.
  • Groups of learners of either similar or different proficiency levels may also benefit from valuable interactional exchanges.
  • It motivates students and provides a rich context for conversing in the second language.
  • Students get an immediate response, and this kind of feedback fosters instant communication and spontaneity.
  • Learners can collaborate with each other and construct meaning in chat-rooms which are monitored by teachers.
  • Students can practise any time they want and anywhere they are.
  • After chatting, conversation text can be copied and pasted into a word-processing document for further work.For example, students can spot the mistakes in their partner's text and provide the correct version of it.
  • To help stimulate and support meaningful communication, learners can have a list of questions, or a goal of finding out specific information. Alternatively, students may work towards a specific outcome, such as a information-poster.