E-learning with web 2.0


IM2.png- ► category - IM, or instant messaging, is loosely associated with web 2.0 because of its interactive nature and its role in facilitating a sense of constant connectedness. Nowadays, IM is most commonly found in the form of apps for mobile devices (see Going Mobile below).

- ► what - IM involves synchronous (real-time) conversation between two or more people. Unlike chat, IM is a channel which is usually opened for the duration of a conversation and then closed, while chat often takes place in a permanent or semi-permanent chatroom accessible to a number of users. Although the distinction between the two is becoming increasingly blurry, the tendency is to use chat rather than IM in educational contexts.

- ► why - IM can help facilitate the sense of connectedness associated with web 2.0, especially if users leave an IM channel open while working on their computers or browsing the web. It allows users to communicate quickly and easily without reference to the more formal conventions which still influence the use of email. However, message exchanges can also be saved and thus, like email, can form permanent records. Many IM services allow users to indicate whether they are available to receive messages or are 'away', creating a 'presence awareness' (because when you log into your IM service, you can see immediately which of your contacts are online and available).

In educational contexts, IM can serve as a background supporting channel. Students may well choose IM to communicate with one another, and some teachers may use IM to communicate with students. However, many teachers prefer to use chat, perhaps because it is easier to set up a chatroom and invite students into that space, where their interactions can be overseen by the whole group.

- ► where - There are a number of web-based chat services, though increasingly they are accessible on either computers or mobile devices. Many email platforms (like Gmail) and social networking platforms (like Facebook) have inbuilt IM features, though they may be known by names other than 'IM'. Outside of such platforms, there is a trend towards using metaservices like IM+ (see image on the top left) which pull together a number of different services, including those whose icons are shown.
- ► going mobile - In recent years, there has been a proliferation of IM apps for smartphones, many of which also have web-based versions. Unlike text messaging, IM apps transmit messages over the internet rather than through a telephone service. Such apps are sometimes known as OTT (over the top) apps. Some, like iMessage, which only functions on Apple iOS devices, are platform-specific. Many, like WhatsApp, Viber and Kik (see image on the right), are cross-platform apps which work on any device; other popular examples include Line and WeChat, the international version of the Chinese Weixin (微信).

- ► more - For academic and journalistic references about instant messaging, see the E-learning references page.

Credits: The image above left shows the web log-in page of the IM+ app. The image above right shows the icons for WhatsApp, Viber and Kik. The text on this page draws on the Wikipedia article Instant Messaging.

Contact: There's no such thing as a finished wiki. Like all wikis, this one is a work in progress and there will be changes from time to time in organisation, content and links. However, don't let that stop you from contacting me at any time with comments, suggestions or questions.