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Aim For Better Student Learning: Using Instant Messaging To Facilitate Improved Instructor Student Communication

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Engineers in Toyland - Come and Play

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.140.1 - 10.140.13



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Paper Authors

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Jared Erickson

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J. Ledlie Klosky

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Stephen Ressler

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2115 AIM for Better Student Learning: Using Instant Messaging to Facilitate Improved Instructor-Student Communication Dr. J. Ledlie Klosky, COL Stephen J. Ressler, CPT Jared Erickson United States Military Academy

Introduction This paper describes an experiment in which the instructors in two different undergraduate engineering mechanics courses used America Online Instant Messenger (AIM) as the principal means of communication with their students outside the classroom. Following a brief summary of current trends in instant messaging, we describe the experiment and the two courses in which it was conducted. We present quantitative assessment data demonstrating the positive impact of instant messaging on student learning and on student satisfaction with both the course and the instructor. We provide the authors’ qualitative findings about the positive and negative impacts of IM use, as well as recommendations for maximizing the effectiveness of this popular communication medium.

The Instant Messaging Phenomenon Instant messaging (IM) is a communication service that enables real-time text messaging between two or more persons over the Internet. Most current IM systems include the capability for file-sharing as well. America Online Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger are the most widely used IM systems.

Instant messaging works like this: • The user installs IM client software locally on an Internet-connected computer. This software is normally offered for free. • Using the IM client software, the user logs into a central server. • The IM client provides the server with connection information and the names on the user’s contact list (often called a “buddy list”). • The server informs the IM client if any of the user’s contacts are also logged in and provides their connection information to the client. • The user can now send messages to any of the contacts who are on line. Because the IM client already has connection information for all of the user’s contacts, messages are sent directly from user to user (i.e., between IM clients); messages are not routed through the central server. This direct electronic connection between users is the technical characteristic that causes IM to be such a responsive communication medium. • As users communicate back and forth, their respective messages appear in a window on both computers. As each new message arrives, the previous ones remain on screen but scroll upward, leaving a complete record of the electronic conversation. This record can be saved as a log file at the end of the IM session.1

Aarons suggests that IM is well on its way to replacing telephone and e-mail as the primary communication mode for people with internet connections.2 The Pew Internet and American

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Erickson, J., & Klosky, J. L., & Ressler, S. (2005, June), Aim For Better Student Learning: Using Instant Messaging To Facilitate Improved Instructor Student Communication Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15347

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015