Tech Quest Final Draft


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Tech Quest Final Draft

  1. 1. Instant Messaging: A Medium for Consistent Communication and Collaboration Lisa Mulka Jackson Community College ___________________________________________________________________ Audience & Purpose The audience for this project is other writing teachers who may benefit from my firsthand experience with instant messaging as a conference communication tool. The purpose of this compilation of experiences is to highlight the potential uses of instant messenger as a conferencing tool and office hour tool in the English classroom. While my experiences with instant messaging are limited to college composition, other teachers might find use from the ideas, experiences and research presented here. An example of an instant message. Taken from O’Connor Educational Need One pressing educational need that is routine in the college composition classroom is the lack of time for one-on-one instruction and communication with students. This problem is particularly What is plagued by adjunct instructors, who typically wrestle with acquiring instant basic needs such as office space and available time to meet with messaging? students. Because adjuncts often teach back-to-back classes and have either shared office space with other adjuncts or no office “A fo r m o f space at all, meeting with students outside of class is a difficult c o mpu t e r c ha t endeavor as we hunt for a quiet corner somewhere on campus. t h a t allo ws on e to ha v e a r ea l ti me , t yp e d While students can always reach out through the telephone, email co n v e r sa ti o n and office hours in those cramped corners on campus, increasing the wi t h on e o r mo r e line of communication between teachers and students that may need pe o p le whi le extra support is a positive direction that can be reached by emerging c o nn e c t e d to th e in t e rn e t ” technologies. ( O’ C on n or ) Enhancing communication through one-on-one interaction is also apparent in writing conferences with students. During composition conferences during class time, students are often rushed through the revision process with only 10 to 15 minutes to meet with the teacher. While smaller class sizes would certainly help this issue and should be rethought, that solution is not always a feasible solution for every institution.
  2. 2. Page 2 Instant Messaging But if there was a way to extend the back-and-forth live communication that is generated through face-to-face conferences teachers may be able to engage more students in the revision process outside of class and continue to act as the guide on the side in their educational pursuit of academic writing and revision. As stated in a recent NCTE article by Albert Rouzie, the need to rethink chat mediums is necessary to prepare students for a digital “We in English studies now world as he tackles common stereotypes associated with synchronous have an interesting chat. “Although the use of email, and to some extent, the Web has opportunity to shape the become integral to many college composition courses, the use of literacy conventions synchronous conferencing has lagged behind. Unfortunatly the ‘chat’ students will develop further metaphor suggests a trival, depthless leisure that hardly resembles in other courses and also in the rich interactions synchronous conferencing can foster” (253). the work settings they will Rouzie expresses the misconceptions “chat,” such as that generated enter after college.” through instant messenger, that is often linked with moving such technologies out of social contexts and into academic contexts. --Albert Rouzie In addition to the need to rethink such technologies as Rouize points out, there are other problems arising in the composition conference that encourages exploration into instant messagner. One such problem with current writing conferences is the time constraint of the instructor. Trying to meet one-on-one in productive conferences with up to 25 students in a class severely pushes the instructor to hasten appointments often when there is still work to be discussed. By moving writing conferences and additional individual instruction away from face-to-face (or addition to) and into instant messenger an instructor may be able to work one-on-one with multiple students to achieve similar results. If students are able to effectively communicate their revision process to the teacher through instant messenger and are eagerly taking advantage of the technology, it would be seen as a successful solution to an ongoing problem. Research & Resources While the sources below offer only a small portion of research on Computer mediated communication through instant messaging can the subject, they do provide some overarching themes that potentially be an excellent resource indicate that instant messaging creates an opportunity to teach and for educators. practice language and rhetorical strategies while discussing writing —rather than talking about writing like a face-to-face conference would suggest. The articles also show that instant messenger can serve to break down communication barriers between teachers and students by offering a different format to communicate in. Additionally, because instant messaging was originally designed for social communication, teachers entering the instant messaging world may find it easier to relate and connect with students on a level that is comfortable for students.
  3. 3. With this though comes what some researchers claim to be a negative attribute and that is the informal presentation of language that is often associated with instant messaging and texting. A title Instant Messaging of an article in USA Today summarizes this point of view: “Yo, can Page 3 u plz help me write English?” The fear that students will practice non-standardized English by using instant messaging is mentioned in several mainstream sources (such as the USA Today article), but not often as found in the academic articles I have collected. This leaves me wondering if the media is only emphasizing the negative “Synchronous conversation connotation associated with such technology tools that are is a major new literacy traditionally used for social purposes thus stunting the acceptance venue in business, the of such tools for an academic purpose. This is an area I will academy, and personal life, continue to look more deeply into but the sources provided below and yet our emerging are verification that there is a great educational need to consider understanding of its instant messaging in the classroom. implications for written communication remains Farmer, Robert. “Instant Messaging: Collaborative Tool or inchoate” Educator’s Nightmare.” (2003). --Albert Rouzie <> Farmer explores student use of instant messaging along with current literature to understand how instant messaging is being used today and how it may be used in the future. As Farmer states: “This paper reviews some of the good, the bad, and the ugly about instant messaging and some of the benefits and drawbacks of instant messaging in educational settings.” Gerard, Lisa. "The Evolution of the Computers and Writing Conference, the Second Decade." Computers and Composition 23 (2006): 211-27. This article is interesting because it provides a historical presentation of the evaluation of computers, writing and conferences. While it doesn’t necessary focus primarily on instant messaging, it does provide a critical context for how writing and the use of computers have evolved and how they will continue to evolve. Students are becoming more and more comfortable on the computer. Horgan, Daniel J. “Five Messages about IM.” 2 Nov. 2001. 29 Mar. 2009. Reported on, this article examines instant messaging in the corporate world. While it is not specific to education, it does shine incredible light on how many users (young and old, “Instant Messaging is professional or not) are engaging in instant messaging becoming an important conversations to facilitate communication. literacy in kid’s lives, and consequently one that needs to be recognized by teachers” --Amanda O’Connor
  4. 4. Page 4 Instant Messaging Huang, Albert, and David Yen. "Usefulness of Instant Messaging Among Young Users: Social vs Work Perspective." Human Systems Management 22 (2006): 63-72. This article focuses primarily on instant messaging in the workplace, but does centralize on college-age instant message users. The study hoped to understand what qualities of text were valued when using instant messaging for social versus work purposes. Jahnke, Art. “Ready for Instant Messaging?” CIO 16 (2003). Similar to the source by David Horgan, this article also looks at instant messaging in the corporate world and argues that users both inside and outside of the workplace will use instant messaging as professional tools of communication. Lee, Carmen. "Text-Making Practices Beyond the Classroom Context: Private Instant Messaging in Hong Kong." Computers and Composition 24 (2007): 285-301. While this study focuses on Hong Kong, there are important pieces of information that can be translated to other environments. The article focuses on a group of university students who use instant messaging and concludes that producing texts for instant messaging is an entirely different process from that of formal language learning in the classroom. Understanding the difference Instant messaging could become a between formal and informal language is one area this article new trend in education, particularly in addresses. the composition classroom. O’Connor, Amanda. “Instant Messaging: Friend or Foe of Student Writing?” Quarterly Journal. Mar. 2008. <>. O’Connor touches upon crucial research in using instant messaging in academic settings and explores how it could potentially be a new area to teach students the evolution of the English language. She also makes a strong connection between instant messaging and student writing, attempting to understand and analyze what impact (if any) instant messaging might have on formal writing. Rouzie, Albert. "Conversation and Carrying On: Play, Conflict, and Serio-Ludic Discourse in Synchronous Computer Conferencing." College Composition and Communication 2001st ser. 53: 251-99. This source analyzes and inspects discourse in instant messaging experiences with a focus on understanding why synchronous chat is often associated with less serious academic discussions. The social context of instant messaging is also addressed in this article.
  5. 5. Instant Messaging Page 5 Four Places of Education Teacher: The teacher’s role in using instant messaging is to act as a guide-on-the-side in the student revision process and students begin to contemplate, resee and rework their writing. The teacher needs to be readily available when offering instant messaging and be able to respond to multiple instant messages at once. Learner: The learner’s responsibility in this process is to engage in articulate and thoughtful communication with the instructor regarding their writing and revision process. Learner’s must be active participants in the discussion by asking questions, providing thoughtful comments and engaging in discussion of their writing. Subject Matter: The subject matter can range in topic but should generally be focused around the learner’s writing and revision process. While instant messaging can be used for a variety of Computer mediated communication communicative purposes, it is important that student writing be could open up greater doors for teacher-student discussions the crux of communication to not only promote rhetorical strategy but to engage learner’s in an active process of revision. Setting: The setting is a freshman college Composition classroom but learners will be expected to use the technology outside of class as well. Instant Messaging as Solution In order to address the educational need outlined above, instant messaging conferences can be integrated into freshman composition classes as a way to generate additional communication opportunities. While I was unable to fully implement instant messaging in my classroom this semester due to timing concerns, I was able to introduce the technology to my students and test it as an open office hour tool. Integrating instant messaging conferences would be a reasonable approach to enhancing communication because it is a relatively easy technology to master and can also be done with little to no cost, as the research presented above suggests. Since I was unable to fully implement my plan this semester, my goal is to introduce instant messaging next semester and work with students to conference on their writing using it as a communication tool.
  6. 6. Page 6 Instant Messaging While the ideal solution to the educational need of limited and restricted time for one-on-one communication is to integrate Vignette instant messaging initially, because I was unable to implement it in this way as the timing of this project developed at the end of the As I introduced instant semester, I used instant messenger as an office hour tool instead. messaging as an online Upon initial integration, I hosted open office hours through AOL office hour tool, one student instant messenger in order to assess if instant messaging would sought out help almost benefit student revision process. Because my students are already immediately. As final tech savvy with MySpace, twitter and facebook, they are also well portfolios were rapidly versed in instant messaging and by adding this technology to my approaching, Linda was other contact information I was able to generate more communication between students and myself. worried about revising a research paper. Our conversation through instant messaging lasted Implementation, Findings & Bumps approximately ten minutes as she asked for feedback Along the Way on how to properly cite sources using MLA As I set out to explore instant messenger as a conferencing tool for documentation. She was students in composition, I was only able to implement a small part struggling with how to cite of the project because of the timing of the semester. Because my an interview and how composition classes are in their final week of class, I wasn’t able to introduce it into the paper integrate instant messaging in the way I originally intended as a so that it was presented as conferencing tool. Instead, I used instant messaging as a tool for a credible source so our open office hours where I told my students I would be online during discussion revolved around a certain period of time and they were welcome to communicate how to signal in and signal questions or seek feedback through instant messenger. I used AOL out sources effectively. instant messenger because I’ve noticed that many of my students Despite the succinctness of use this themselves. the conversation, Linda’s Because the timing was so late in the semester I really didn’t think questions and willingness to anyone would take advantage of the additional communication discuss her writing through opportunity but I was pleasantly surprised that two out of the fifty instant messaging gave me students I introduced it to did use it to ask questions about their hope that other students (if final portfolio. The conversations were short, but I was really presented with the happy to see that they were reaching out to the new technology opportunity earlier in the and it gave me hope that this might be another tool I can use to semester) would also seek increase the communication I have with my students about their out help in this way. writing especially if it is integrated at the beginning of the course. The major bumps in the road revolved around the timing and not really being able to use instant messaging as I really wanted to. While I do think instant messaging can work as an office hour tool, I was disappointed that I couldn’t fully see the potential in conferencing about their writing.
  7. 7. Instant Messaging Page 7 Implications While this was a mini implementation and an experiment to get myself comfortable with the technology, I plan on integrating instant messaging next semester in full force by introducing it in the beginning of the course and using it to conference with students on their first essay. From there I hope to really begin to see whether or not this tool makes sense in addition or in replacement to the face-to-face conference. Another thing I plan on doing next semester before fully implementing instant messaging is to survey my students (much like the survey we just did in this course) that will inquire which instant messaging tools they use the most whether it is AOL or Yahoo or something else. I picked AOL for this small implementation because I was familiar with it and I observed my students using it a lot but I want to make sure this is the best option. Overall, I was pleased with this small step because it is leading to a greater understanding of how instant messaging might work in the I used AOL Instant Messenger as tool context of my classroom. And while only a few students utilized to facilitate communication with my students. the technology, I am confident that it would increase significantly if presented much earlier in the course. I look forward to really Image taken from: exploring it deeper next semester and observing the results. sinessofmedia/2009 Evaluation Based on my initial use of instant messaging as conference and communication tools in the composition classroom, it is clear that there can be great potential in enhancing communication when presented to students in a meaningful way. One aspect I learned significantly from is the timing of such an introduction to a new technology. Bringing it into my course at the end of the semester when students were already overwhelmed with other projects seemed to limit their willingness to participate. I also chose to make it a voluntarily form of communication and when I implement it again in upcoming semester, I plan on created scheduled and required times students must meet with me to discuss their writing through instant messaging. With these changes, I hope to continue to see how instant messaging can be a powerful and productive communication tool.
  8. 8. Page 8 Instant Messaging Others might learn from these experiences by having a clear plan in place when introducing a new technology along with an appropriate timeline. I do think a lot of great observations were missed because I wasn’t fully able to use instant messaging in the capacity I originally sought. However, I have learned that some students will always appreciate an extra form of communication whether it is required or optional. In the future, I will experiment with instant messaging again and develop a clear plan of its use prior to the beginning of the semester so that I may fully engage students in the many possibilities of instant messaging.