"IM here" Reflections on Virtual Office Hours


AOL Instant messenger (IM) was used over four semesters as an additional way for students to contact us during office hours. Since college students primarily use IM as a way to interact socially with their friends and family, we were curious if students would use IM to contact us, who would use it, how often they would use it, and what the content of the IM interactions would be. After two years of collecting all IM exchanges with students, we found that students did use IM to contact us on a regular basis. Both male and female students in roughly equal numbers used IM. In addition, a majority of the exchanges were task related; that is, questions and comments relating to a particular course or assignment. Results, personal reflections, and suggestions for future research are discussed.

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