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36th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS'03) - Track1
Big Island, Hawaii
January 06-January 09
ISBN: 0-7695-1874-5
David H. Spencer, NJIT/Rutgers University
Starr Roxanne Hiltz, New Jersey Institute of Technology

A field study of Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) as used in higher education asks the questions, "Will students take part in synchronous chat sessions if they are scheduled? " and "What do students and faculty perceive to be the problems and the advantages of synchronous chat sessions?" Media Mode is the independent variable, characterized by four nominal values derived from the mixture of asynchronous discussion forums, here called Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN), with various levels of synchronous media use.

Data were collected from 29 course sections, for which instructors were interviewed, students were surveyed online to investigate their perceptions of the use of chat in online courses, and university records were used to determine grade distributions.

The percentage of students participating in scheduled chat sessions varied from 5% to 50% and many of the instructors report problems with organizing the sessions as well as ideas about how to do it better "next time." Instructors were nevertheless generally positive about the potential usefulness of synchronous sessions in terms of their ability to bring the students closer to the instructor. They report some small success in their first chat session and the experience leads to better facilitation in subsequent sessions. Students significantly find chat more ?Rewarding? and less ?Complex? in classes that scheduled sessions two or more times than students in asynchronous-only classes. The implication is that when students actually use chat they do find it ?Rewarding? and not ?Complex.? Given the problems with implementation of chat sessions, however, it is not surprising that its use is not significantly related to predicted improvements in outcomes for courses.

Citation:
David H. Spencer, Starr Roxanne Hiltz, "A Field Study of Use of Synchronous Chat in Online Courses," hicss, vol. 1, pp.36, 36th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS'03) - Track1, 2003
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