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ERIC Number: EJ843375
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 6
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 7
ISSN: ISSN-1552-3233
Synchronous Chat and Electronic Ink for Distance Support in Mathematics
Loch, Birgit; McDonald, Christine
Innovate: Journal of Online Education, v3 n3 Feb-Mar 2007
For online mathematics instructors, synchronous communication can be a challenge due to the need for specialized symbols, graphics, or notations to explain key concepts. While software tools exist to support such communication, they can often be cumbersome and time-consuming for users to adopt in online exchanges. As one way of addressing this problem, Birgit Loch and Christine McDonald investigate the feasibility of employing a freely available chat client for the teaching of mathematics to distance students. The distinctive value of this chat client comes from a handwriting or "electronic ink" tool that allows users to create and edit mathematical formulae and diagrams rapidly in real time, thereby allowing for a more fluid pace of communication. To assess this tool, Loch and McDonald conducted a pilot study in two undergraduate mathematics-based courses taught at a distance; in this study the authors used the client in a series of online tutorials with student volunteers, and they then evaluated the quality of communication in the tutorials as well as the results of a survey administered to the students. The results indicate that while the tool may require some practice to use, it was sufficiently flexible to accommodate both textual and graphic-based communications; moreover, the students found it a valuable resource for online tutorials in the discipline. The authors conclude with a recommendation of this convenient tool as a viable option for online mathematics instructors. (Contains 1 table, 4 figures and 4 exhibits.)
Fischler School of Education and Human Services. Nova Southeastern University, 1750 NE 167th Street, North Miami Beach, FL 33162. Tel: 800-986-3223; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia