While there are many online services available, each has its strength. Let's take a look at some:
- Instant Messaging
Yahoo! Messenger or IM-only software
Strength: Number of participants almost limitless
Weakness: Text only. Sharing files available but participants need to download. Participants need to use the same system.
How to use: Assuming all your students use the same system, you ask them prior to logging in that you will be available online at a particular time. Once all of them are online, you invite them to join the online conference. You may want to set "house rules" in that particular conference as an online conference can be very unstructured.
Strength: Allows non-realtime interaction. Participants can respond to other participants even at different times. Allows posting of other online resources, such as online video from YouTube or online slideshows.
Weakness: Interaction not as dynamic as IM. You maybe typing a comment that someone else has already entered, so you are not able to support or respond to one another.
How to use: You create your blog. You share the particular post you want them to read, and then ask them to post their comments. Most blogs ask participants to register before leaving a comment.
- Online forums
Strength: Captures your audience
Weakness: Not realtime.
How to use: You create a message board, and then invite your students to register. After they register, you create your first thread/topic, and students respond.
- Online Presentations
Strengths: Multi-channel (text, visual and other available online resources) near-realtime communication
Weaknesses: People have to have Google Mail or UPM Post Mail.
How to use: You upload your presentation (or document) to Google Docs, then invite your participants by sharing them. People will need to log in or register using the link you send them.
Of course, you can use any combination of these.
If you have questions, just IM me.