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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.