Tuesday, April 29, 2008

6:00 p.m. - Professor... Are You There?

Over the past few weeks, I conducted research on virtual office hours and if they are effective. It seems that an additional form of communication is needed with the new and growing undergraduate classes of millennial students.

As I stated in a prior blog, I use virtual office hours during my actual office hours to reach my students who may not be able to physically come into my office.
In my experience this year, I feel that the virtual office hours are needed. This year, only eight to ten students of my 110 students have visited my office this semester. However, over 30 students have communicated with me via Yahoo Instant Messenger this semester.

The conversations ranged from requesting help for finding sources and proper
APA citation to absences and grade inquiry. In addition, students used their computers, cell phones, and blackberry devices to communicate with me via instant messenger.

In the future, I plan to offer virtual office hours through a program like Meebo, which would enable me to use MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and other messenging systems at the same time. In addition, one might want to examine virtual office hours through facebook and myspace IM. I have not reached that level of technology yet, but I hope to explore it in the future.

I distributed a survey to all of my students this semester regarding virtual office hours and I am looking forward to coding the responses.

I will post the results soon!
Let me know what you think about virtual office hours.



  1. We use Meebo at my college. Each librarian takes different shifts. It is really great for students because students use a variety of instant messaging services, and Meebo encompasses all of them. It's great.

  2. Hi, this sounds like a really good idea. I am wary of current trends in higher education towards distance learning, but I think that supplementing on-campus classes with technology is a great idea and the increased correspondence shows that.

    A major problem for u/g students is that it is very hard for them [us] to get to know a professor well, which creates all sorts of problems with respect to referencing, mentoring etc. The multi-tasking capacity of IM software also helps to ensure that no one gets ignored.


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