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CADE 2003 - Usage of instant Messaging as a Means of Community Building in eLearning Environments


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Cooze, M., & Barbour, M. K. (2003, June). Usage of instant messaging as a means of community building in eLearning environments. Paper presented at the annual Canadian Association for Distance Education conference, St. John's, NL.

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CADE 2003 - Usage of instant Messaging as a Means of Community Building in eLearning Environments

  1. 1. Usage of Instant Messaging as aMeans of Community Building in e- Learning Environments Presented By: Morris Cooze and Michael Barbour
  2. 2. Purpose of Research• The researchers investigated the use of Instant Messaging (IM) usage among students as a means of community building in an e-Learning environment.• What are the implications of IM usage for e- Teachers as online learning continues to grow?• Which IM tools will students use to further their learning online?• Will the use of IM tools increase students’ chances of success via e-Learning?
  3. 3. Study Group• Research was conducted with 41 students enrolled in Enterprise Education 3205 through the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation. (CDLI)• Students completed the prescribed curriculum solely through an e-Learning environment.• An initial message posted to the discussion forum during the fall term, 15 students replied publicly with their IM accounts.• Near the end of the course, 24 students completed an online survey.
  4. 4. “As a general rule it will be breakthroughs in teaching practicethat will make e-Learning more usefuland not breakthroughs in technology.” (Nicholas, 2003)
  5. 5. Findings• Of the 24 students, 20 indicated that they utilized IM.• 100% of IM users indicated that they utilized MSN as their chat tool. Type of IM Tool Used MSN
  6. 6. Findings• 67% of students indicated that the reasons why they utilized IM was to communicate with other students. Use of IM Yes No
  7. 7. Findings• Students listed the following reasons for chatting with other students: – Socializing – getting to know others. – Communicate feelings about the course in general. – Discuss course work. – To gain feedback regarding progress in the course.“Studies have found that chat sessions are more often used by participants for socialization purposes.” (Nicholas, 2003)
  8. 8. Findings• 79% indicated that they did utilized chat to communicate with others outside of the course. Use of IM to Communicate Outside of Course. Yes No
  9. 9. Findings• Students listed the following reasons for chatting with others outside of the course: – Communicate with family and friends from away. – Meet new people. – General chat. – Gaming.
  10. 10. Findings• 83% indicated that they did not utilize IM to communicate with their instructor. Use of IM to Communicate with Instructor Yes No
  11. 11. Findings• Those that did use IM to communicate with their instructor were split in their reasons which included: – Related to course work. – General chat. – Both. “In terms of collaboration, the chat tools nurture learner brainstorming and questioning, presenter clarifications and explanations, role-play and private one-to-one mentoring.” (Bonk, 2002)
  12. 12. Findings• 56% indicated that IM allowed them to feel more at ease during vClass sessions. Comfort Level in vClass and IM Yes No
  13. 13. Findings• Reasons listed why IM made them feel more at ease in vClass sessions: – IM allowed them to get to know others outside of vClass. – Felt more comfortable once they got to know others. – “Putting a virtual face to the names”“…the use of Internet-based communication increases the likelihood of completing course activities…” (Ohlund et al, 1999)
  14. 14. Findings• 56% indicated that IM assisted them in their course work. IM and Course Assistance Yes No“It is important, for the sake of the content aspect to integrate synchronous communication tools.“ (Avigail, n.d.)
  15. 15. Findings• Students listed how IM could assist them during online learning in the following ways: – Assistance with assigned work. – Pick up from missed classes. – Get to know others and feel more comfortable. – Talk to more than one person at a time. – Obtain information quicker. – Get in contact with the teacher quicker. – Collaboration with classmates. – Easy way to communicate.
  16. 16. Overall Student Impressions“I think that if instant messaging was more widely used for online courses, it may allow students to have more contact with their teachers, and for them to get more help with their assignments, or the work that they are doing in the chapter at any given time. vClass is good, but there are only certain times that it can be used. Also, vClass may not fit on most home computers (and is harder to use on dial-up). With IM, it could be accessed at any time, and would be a lot easier.”
  17. 17. General Trends• IM is a tool that students feel comfortable in utilizing, given the amount of use during personal time.• Students personally feel that IM assists both in their learning and their sense of “knowing” their virtual classmates.• Based on these trends, e-teachers should give consideration to adopting a more formal role for IM in their e-Learning environments.
  18. 18. Future Research• Based upon our findings we feel that this topic warrants additional research.• Include content in WebCT on how to set-up MSN, including the promotion by the instructor, sharing of accounts to culminate with a year-end survey.• Performance comparison of IM users versus non-IM users.
  19. 19. Bibliography• Bonk, Curtis J. (2002). Collaborative Tools for e-Learning. Available at• Nicholas, M. (2003). A theory for e-Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 6(2), 1-1-, Available at• Ohlund, B., et al. (1999). Impact of asynchronous and synchronous Internet-based communication on collaboration and performance among k-12 teachers. Available at l• Oren, Avigail. Communication Tools in an On Line Collaborative Assignment – Usage and Preferences. Available at
  20. 20. Contact Information• Morris Cooze –• Michael Barbour –• Presentation available at: –