Getting the Most Out of Online Homeschool Classes: The Chat Box
“How do I get the most out of my homeschool online classes” is a question we get quite often here at Homeschool Connections.
One great feature of Homeschool Connections LIVE, interactive courses is the student chat box. The chat box is a box that appears on the side of the screen in any Homeschool Connections LIVE class where students can interact with the instructor, course moderator (teaching assistant), and fellow students via text. Students can also use the chat box to send private messages to the course monitor if they need help with a technical problem during class. In LIVE courses, the chat box is in real time; in recorded courses, the chat box is ,of course, a recording and so not interactive.
In this article, we will discuss some ways to get the most out of the chat box…
Observe the Instructor’s Guidelines
The chat box is one of many tools instructors have at their disposal for managing their LIVE classes. Some instructors may make heavy use of the chat box while a few discourage its use. Some instructors prefer that class questions come through the chat while others prefer students to “raise their hands” and speak on mic. Classes requiring greater interaction, such as math or foreign languages, may use the chat to conduct exercises in class and have students type out their answers. However your instructor utilizes the chat, the important thing is to make sure your student understands the instructor’s guidelines and expectations for chat usage and observes them. Just because one instructor allows a liberal use of the chat box does not mean others will; the guiding principle for using the chat in any class should be the expectations of that specific instructor.
Stay on Topic
This is probably the most important rule of thumb for using the chat successfully: stay on topic. Whatever gets posted in the chat box should be relevant to class. While it is tempting to use the chat for side conversations, tangents, or long strings of emojis, this can be distracting and detracts from the usefulness of the chat. Of course, certain instructors may allow more leeway for having a bit of fun with the chat, especially before class starts. However, once class officially begins, the chat should never be used for mere socializing. It is a tool for the instructor to add another layer of interaction to the class and not an opportunity for students to chit chat. Instructors generally stay on top of this and course monitors have the ability to turn off the chat if students abuse it.
Do Use It For Troubleshooting
One excellent use of the chat is to use it for troubleshooting technical problems. In fact, the chat is the most appropriate way to handle these sorts of issues. Being an online service, we are all at the mercy of the internet. Glitches do happen. Students may occasionally get booted from a room, presentation slides may not appear, or there may be audio-visual problems. If something happens, it is best not to post this in the chat publicly, as it can be distracting to other students; when a teacher is giving a presentation and a student blurts out “My sounds isn’t working” in the chat, it is a distraction. These sorts of problems should be sent to the course monitor via private chat. That way they can be addressed without interrupting the class.
If the Chat is Too Distracting…
Now and then parents will contact us and ask us to disable the chat because their children find it too much of a distraction. We generally tell these parents that whether or not to use the chat box is a prerogative of the instructor. However, if you really want to not see the chat, you can close out of it. You can even use a small Post-It note on the screen to cover it up.
Used properly, the chat room can be a fantastic resource for instructors and students to interact, adding another layer of richness to the Homeschool Connections experience.
Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…