Communication Conventions in Instructional Electronic Chats

  • Karen L. Murphy
  • Mauri P. Collins


The widespread use of computer conferencing for instructional purposes, both as an adjunct to and a replacement for the traditional classroom, has encouraged teachers and students alike to approach teaching and learning in ways that incorporate collaborative learning and the social construction of knowledge. Discussion and dialog between instructor and students and among students is a key feature of computer conferencing and the foundation of constructivist learning techniques. Computer conferencing can be used both asynchronously, which allows time for reflection between interactions, and synchronously, allowing real-time, interactive chats or open sessions among as many participants as are online simultaneously. This study used content analysis to first identify the communication conventions and protocols that real-time, interactive electronic chat users developed in instructional settings. The study also determined that the students recognized a need to use their communication conventions and protocols to communicate clearly and minimize misunderstandings in their online transactions with others. The more obvious conventions included using keywords and names of individuals, shorthand techniques, non-verbal cues in text, and asking questions and seeking clarification.
How to Cite
Murphy, K. L., & Collins, M. P. (1997). Communication Conventions in Instructional Electronic Chats. First Monday, 2(11).