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Born To Chat
(Nati Confabulari)

sorry, was afk. can u send the file pls. rofl - v cool :P not sure, will ask - wait …. yup - needs to be 2 paras - abt 200 words - k? np

Kids chat - it is central to how they find things out, interact personally and develop socially. Adults chat also, but can feel strangely uncomfortable in computer-mediated synchronous environments. This article will look at some aspects of this medium with the aim of opening your minds to its possibilities.

As conscientious teachers, we are always on the look out for ways to connect meaningfully with our students. Some students who would never put their hand up in class for help often do not hesitate to drop in and talk meaningfully for ages in MSN. I have looked for ways to reach my students and believe chat is an essential vehicle for doing this. Real teaching does not just happen within the four walls of the classroom, in the 45 minutes you see them each day. Real learning is an immediate thing - a learner needs to know something, they learn to find answers. If their teacher is available when they are working then they feel free to engage in real conversation.

Chat is an amazingly powerful medium to provide authentic meaning to students when used as one of many strategies to support student learning. Chat-based tools come in all shapes, sizes and flavours - phone, MSN, ICQ, chat rooms, SMS, MUD, MOO, IRC, Internet telephony, NetMeeting and so on. The proliferation of vehicles for people to work synchronously with other people suggests this is a very popular activity. No more popular than with teenagers.

Working with kids using chat changes your perceptions on a human's capacity to communicate effectively. They can maintain multiple conversations simultaneously whilst browsing and playing a shoot'em up game and watching TV - a sort of multiplexed full duplex. Interestingly, they can recall important elements of all conversations, relevant details of the TV program, remember what gear they picked up after killing the last opponent and the path they used to find a page buried somewhere in a website.

Talking to kids through chat programs have many unexpected benefits. I have, in more adventurous times, asked the kid I was chatting with to put either MUM or DAD on so I can chat with them also - what an amazing bridge building exercise that is inclusive of the learner and their parents.

Adopting chat to support your students costs you time and effort but the learning benefits can far outweigh the small investment. It is a lifestyle choice - you need to make time (not find it, as it has this annoying habit of getting lost) regularly to do it.

What do you think?

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