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Moodle has a built-in activity called Chat and I like to use the Chat activity to hold virtual office hours with my students. That way anytime my students need to get a hold of me during specified times that I'm normally would be in my office and holding office hours, they can also log into the Moodle course and contact me directly through there and have a live chat. This has been a useful tool for being able to get students to approach me initially online and then come into the office and meet with me in person. So to creative an activity, make sure you have Editing turned on and then in the Header block we will go ahead and click the dropdown menu for Add an activity and select Chat.
For the Name of this chat room, I simply call my chat room Virtual Office Hours. For the Introductory text, I let the students know when my virtual office hours are going to be, This live chat will be available to students everyday from 11:30 AM until 1:30 PM. Go ahead and scroll down a little bit and now let's set up some of the specific parameters about the Chat. We can set the chat time to start at a particular date.
I could go ahead and set this date to -- go ahead and be the first day of the course, but I am going to go ahead and set this to today's date which is the 30th of July, 2011 and I am going to set the time that this chat is going to be available for my normal time of 11:30 in the morning. The next option of Repeat sessions, I want set this to At the same time everyday. That way everyday during the term I don't have to go in and recreate a new chat, this chat will automatically be available to my students everyday.
The next option is Save past sessions, and we can set this so it only saves the chat session text for some specified amount of time. I like to keep a record of all these chats, so I go ahead and set this to Never delete messages. The last option here is Everyone can view past sessions. If you want students to be able to always go in and look at previous chats, you can go ahead and set this to Yes. If you do not want that, go ahead and leave it set to No. I am going to leave it set to No. That way I can go back and I can review all my previous chat sessions, but the students are unable to go in and see those other sessions.
Now if we were setting up a chat with a guest speaker perhaps, we would want to set this to Yes, so that the students could always go in and check out what was going on in the chat. The bottom section here allows us to set the Common module settings. We are not going to use Group mode. We are going to leave the Visibility set to Show so that these virtual office hours are always available to the students, and we are not going to set an ID number. Go ahead and click the Save and return to course button and when our page refreshes we can see our Virtual Office Hours, Chat session available here in our Header block.
To look at what the Chat session looks like, go ahead and click on the link for Virtual Office Hours and you can see our instructions here that we have given to the students, The live chat will be available to the students everyday from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. We can see when the next session is going to begin which would be set for the next day,, and then we have two ways of accessing the Chat. The first way which simply opens a live chat window and the other option is a little bit more accessible interface. Let's go ahead and explore the normal chat session, click the Click here to enter the chat room now link.
After a few seconds the chat room opens. We can see that we've currently entered into the chat room and in order to interact with the chat there is a text field down at the bottom, all we have to do is type in a message, hit Enter or Return on our keyboard and our new message is posted into the chat. Students are able to login to here and interact with us in real-time. Let's go ahead and close this window, and I want to look at one other thing inside of this chat. Go ahead and return back to your course by clicking on the BIOL432 link in the upper left corner, in the breadcrumbs section.
We can see that our chat was added here into the Header block, but if we look over here in the right column, we can see in the Upcoming events that there's a Virtual Office Hours chat session, that's already been added to our Calendar. If you click on the link for Go to calendar, we are initially brought in to the current day where we can see the chat session added as an activity, and then if we look down in the Calendar we see that tomorrow's date also has the Virtual Office Hours added to it. If we scroll down a little bit and we look at the next days in sequence, you'll notice that the next day sequence do not have the chat session noted.
That's because the chat session only notes on the very next day, tomorrow a new session will be announced to the students automatically. Go ahead and scroll back up to the top and let's return back to our course by clicking on the BIOL432 link. Using an online chat can be a great way to get your students to interact with you online, ask questions and approach you. By working with the students through the Chat session, you can often times get them into your office to be able to hold more one-on-one conversations and tutoring session.
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