Excite chat adults
This tool would be an appropriate choice for DE students.
The chat/instant messaging products with the highest ratings in our comparisons to date are AOL Messenger and Yahoo Messenger.
It contains limited start-up options and minimal means of controlling simultaneous users.
Participants can send and receive files during a session, but cannot archive the text chats. MSN Messenger provides some basic chat features, and features audio communication.
Jennifer Stein, Debbie Garber and Jon Baggaley MDE Programme Centre for Distance Education Athabasca University - Canada's Open University Text-based conferencing can be both asynchronous (i.e., participants log into the conference at separate times), and synchronous (i.e., interaction takes place in real time).
It is thus subject to the same wide variation as the online audio- and video-conferencing methods (see the earlier Reports in this series).
A product may have a good synchronous audio feature but a mediocre messaging facility – or vice versa.
Text messages can be archived by copying and pasting from the chat window only. AOL Messenger is popular with the general online public, and is well supported. In addition to the chat function, this service provides a valuable “web tour” or feature (allowing participants to control other users’ browsers in leading them to a series of web addresses: i.e., “co-browsing”).
Over time, it is likely that conferencing products with multiple integrated functions will become less popular, in the same way as the integrated “tape-slide” machines of the 1970s fell out of favour because of their relative cumbersomeness and inconvenience. Owing to the speed with which Web addresses are changed, the online references cited in this report may be outdated.
The next report in this series will discuss software evaluation criteria and terminology. They can be checked at the Athabasca University software evaluation site: cde.athabascau.ca/softeval/.
Installation is more cumbersome than with other instant messaging tools. [At time of publication, this product appears to be no longer available.
Sonork is easy to use once installed but its chat area is cumbersome and may be difficult for new users to master. We have retained our evaluation of it in this report, however, owing to the unique potential of “co-browsing” in DE (see Excite above), and as a reminder to identify an alternative product.] Tourbar was a specialty “co-browsing” tool – potentially valuable for DE students and instructors wishing to lead each other on web site “excursions.” The user was able to program solo “web tours,”group tours, or become a tour guide (‘Master Surfer’).
It would be an appropriate choice for a DE student, even though it lacks a few of the features found in other products. Excite is generally easy to use, provides a standard text area for messages, and features audio communication.