Instant Messaging in distance education
Abstract: Instant messaging has become widely used in many instances. The concept of synchronous communication changed the terms of communication in distance education. This paper aims to achieve a deeper understanding of the current status of communication in distance education, additionally, to explore the usability of IM features in the e-learning process. Five interviews and a questionnaire investigation have been conducted with both experienced teachers and students. The presented data illustrate that IM has become an effective approach which improves communication efficiency of distance education, but its evolution is restricted by the inherent properties of distance education. We also extended the technology acceptance model by an integration of three theories which are media richness, flow and effective communication. And this extension is utilized for evaluating the relationship between communication efficiency and four unaided IM features: instant message, VOIP, video conference and file transfer. The results show that IM features can improve the efficiency of communication in distance education. Also the results indicate the limitation of our research model, which will implicate the direction of our future study.
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