Group Chat Rooms
Online chat can provide an opportunity for meaningful collaboration. Chat is a synchronous technology, a live collaborative tool. Participants must be logged on to the Internet at the same time. Eventually, we hope to have a statewide database which will make it easy to initiate a chat with educators with common interest. For now, we will use group chat rooms accessed by invitation or a web link. When you join a group chat room, you may find yourself chatting with up to 20 or more people at the same time. Obviously, this could be chaotic without a plan and process. We plan to have group chat meetings which are leader led, with chat being used for participant queries or comments upon invitation.
Imagine, a teacher group which has been formed as a result of a professional development experience. These educators would like to maintain contact with the content expert who delivered the training for ongoing mentoring as they implement the ideas or curriculum presented. (mentoring) The content expert could send out online study materials and then offer to take questions in a group chat room at a specified time. Because chat would primarily be between participants and the content expert, it could easily be made a productive experience.
There are many chat tools to select from. Our initial test will be using the AOL chat infrastructure. The system is free, cross platform, and supports easy definition of permanent group chat rooms. We may test more than one of these systems over time. Macintosh users already have the software installed, it is called iChat. Windows users will need to download the free application AIM from AOL. Regardless of platform, a free account with a unique username will need to be created through AOL. Mac users who have a dot Mac or Me.com email can optionally use this account for AOL chat.
Initial Setup for AOL Chat (if you are not already using AOL for chat)
Joining a TRC Group Chat Room
Once you have a AOL user account and a client, joining a group chat room is as simple as clicking on a web link or typing a keystroke in your Chat application. Our plan is to create some permanent group chat rooms and others on the fly as needed for specific projects. Generally, you will enter a chat room by schedule, as the likely hood of finding someone logged in at random is small. You will receive an email specifying a web page link or Chat Room Name associated with a Group chat opportunity. \
Mac Users Using iChat
Click the following link:
Windows Users Using the AIM Client Application
- Choose AIM Menu > Chat > Buddy Chat (or type ALT C)
- Enter the Room name (for our test use: trcgroup2
- Does not make sense, but you have to enter a screen name in the top: i.e. keithm
You should arrive a the group chat room.
My Local Network Blocks AIM Chat
Chat applications often use standard ports (network doors) that can be blocked by firewall settings. Luckily, both the AIM application and iChat on the Mac allow you to change that port to Port 80, the standard port for web pages. If you discover your network will not allow you to use Chat, follow these steps to change your application to port 80: