Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy

Chat Room

Chat room is a tool that promotes synchronous communication in a course. Members of the class can carry on a conversation with each other and with the instructor in real time by typing messages into a text box. Messages appear to all participants in the chat session as soon as they are submitted by a student. Chat messages are automatically archived and can be reviewed at a later time. As with all synchronous communications, announcing scheduled session times with students is a necessity. If student participation is being assessed, students need to have a clear understanding of the criteria on which their grade is based.

Pros & Cons

Allows for real-time interaction between students without them having to be in the same location. Controlling the flow of conversation can be difficult without physical presence and verbal queues.  This can lead to chaos and disorganization in an online chat session.
Creates a flow of conversation similar to live verbal conversations that occur in a classroom. The pace of conversation can often be quicker in a chat session than in a classroom, and students sometimes have difficulty typing responses in a timely manner.  This can lead to confusion regarding who a student is responding to when they submit text in a chat, as the conversation may have moved on already.
The conversation is archived for review at a later time, or to allow those who cannot attend the live chat to be able to see what was discussed. Students who may be learning disabled, non-native speakers, or poor typists may have a difficult time participating.

Best Practices:

  • Faculty should be prepared to moderate rather than dominate the conversation.
    • Have a list of discussion stimulants prepared ahead of time.
    • Be prepared to bring the discussion back on topic if needed.
  • Communicate guidelines and expectations for using the chat session.
  • Consider offering multiple modes of communication to accommodate students who aren't spontaneous thinkers.
  • Announce specific dates and times of synchronous sessions at the beginning of the semester.
  • Have students attempt to access the chat session prior to the first chat.
    • Direct students to desktop support if they are having difficulty accessing the chat.
  • Provide a rubric that outlines criteria for determining grades.