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Virtual office hours as cyberinfrastructure: The case study of instant messaging

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Abstract

Although out-of-class communication enhances students’ learning experience, students’ use of office hours has been limited. As the learning infrastructures of the social sciences and humanities have undergone a range of changes since the diffusion of digital networks, new opportunities emerge to increase out-of-class communication. Hence, it is important to investigate the role of cyberinfrastructures as valuable alternatives or supplements to existing infrastructures in the learning process. This paper proposes that virtual office hours can be a form of cyberinfrastructure that provides new possibilities for student–faculty interaction. We examine students’ perceptions of instant messaging as a tool for offering virtual office hours and enhancing student–faculty interaction. Students report that instant messaging is a useful tool for virtual office hours because of its convenience, interactivity, and ease of use. While students only made limited use of it when it was actually offered as an alternative to regular office hours, it represents an important new avenue for interaction. We outline reasons for students’ limited use of instant messaging for virtual office hours and discuss a series of barriers and potential solutions.

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... in-class students to connect more readily to their faculty adviser by overcoming work schedule conflicts, commuting limitations, adaptive needs challenges, the sense of intimidation some students experience, and other issues that prevent physical access to the faculty advisor (Balayeva & Quan-Haase, 2009, Li, Finley, Pitts & Gao, 2011. ...
... A key hypothetical disadvantage is that IM may not allow for conversations about complex matters (Balayeva & Quan-Haase, 2009). The OCC literature has not yet assessed whether VOH significantly alters the content or character of advising. ...
... Jeong (2007) reported potential for miscommunication on IM due to lack of verbal cues. In addition, student respondents indicated that they would be more careful about making mistakes on IM, such as grammatical errors, when communicating with faculty in comparison to their communications with friends and family (Balayeva & Quan-Haase, 2009). In our own experience, sometimes new VOH practitioners struggle with social cues such as how to bring an IM conversation to an end. ...
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Conference Paper
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While much is known about the role of student involvement in various dimensions of student change and development, considerably less is known abouthow students become involved as they make the transition from work or high school to college. This paper describes the results of a series of focus-group interviews with 132 diverse, new students entering a community college; a liberal arts college; an urban, commuter, comprehensive university; and a large research university. The study identifies the people, experiences, and themes in the processes through which students become (or fail to become) members of the academic and social communities on their campus.
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This article examines uses of instant messaging (IM) in a high-tech firm to illustrate how knowledge workers use this new work tool to collaborate with co-workers. The objectives are 1) to identify the collaborative practices of individuals in mediated work environments by looking at uses of IM; 2) to discern what social processes are reflected in employees' use of IM; and 3) to investigate how three factors proposed by Erickson and Kellogg (2000) to support social processes—visibility, awareness and accountability—are used in an IM system. Questionnaire and interview data show that while IM leads to higher connectivity and new forms of collaboration, it also creates distance: employees use the mediated environment as a shield, distancing themselves from superiors. We use Erickson & Kellogg's ‘social translucence of technology’ framework to discuss the social consequences of working in a computer-mediated work environment.
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This article reviews the body of research on the use and role of instant messaging (IM) in campus life, and how IM is a key part of university students' communication. IM is a synchronous form of communication, and its speed, availability information, and support for multiple conversations have made it appealing for young people. With university students, in particular, showing a heavy reliance on IM, researchers have shown great interest in how university students use IM and how it is integrated in their social and academic life. While studies are emerging in various disciplines, no attempt has been made to integrate the disparate findings and approaches. This article synthesizes key findings, provides a map of the literature, and discusses conceptual problems inherent in the study of IM and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) that will help researchers identify key areas of study and opportunities for future investigation.
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This paper reports on findings from a nationwide survey of Internet use by U.S. college faculty. The survey asked about general Internet use, use of specific Internet technologies (e-mail, IM, Web, etc.), the Internet's impact on teaching and research, its impact on faculty-student interactions, and about faculty perceptions of students' Internet use. There is general optimism, though little evidence, about the Internet's impacts on their professional lives. The findings show that institutions of higher education still need to address three broad areas (infrastructure, professional development, and teaching and research) to assist faculty to continue to make good use of the Internet in their professional work.
Article
AOL Instant messenger (IM) was used over four semesters as an additional way for students to contact us during office hours. Since college students primarily use IM as a way to interact socially with their friends and family, we were curious if students would use IM to contact us, who would use it, how often they would use it, and what the content of the EM interactions would be. After two years of collecting all IM exchanges with students, we found that students did use EM to contact us on a regular basis. Both male and female students in roughly equal numbers used EM. In addition, a majority of the exchanges were task related; that is, questions and comments relating to a particular course or assignment. Results, personal reflections, and suggestions for future research are discussed.
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The Review of Higher Education - Volume 21, Number 2, Winter 1998
Professors online: The Internet’s impact on college faculty http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue10_9/jones/index.html
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Revisiting media competition: The gratification niches of instant messaging, email, and telephone. Paper read at Annual Meetings of the International Communication Association
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