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Course Communication: Synchronous

Synchronous communication is interaction that occurs when the sender and receiver are interacting with each other at the same time. It's live, real-time communication.

The advantage of synchronous communication includes

The disadvantage is that all the people involved with the communication must be available at the same time. With busy schedules, real-time communication can be problematic.

Let's explore options for synchronous communication:


Many tools can be used for live, two-way or many-way communication. Some course management systems like Oncourse contain a chat feature that allows live text communication. Other systems such as AOL also provide audio and video along with text. Other systems provide shared whiteboard or presentation areas.

Tools such as Meebo can be embedded on a web page used for live chat and instance messaging. Meebo is an instant messaging program which supports multiple IM services, including Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger, AIM, ICQ, MySpaceIM, Facebook Chat, Jabber, Google Talk, etc. Other live services are available through AOL, Yahoo, Google, and MSN.

Tools such as Skype can be used for live audio discussions. Skype is a software prome that allows usres to make voice calls over the Internet and calls to other Skype users are free.

Tools such as Elluminate and WiZiQ are particularly effective because they are easy to use and provide multiple tools such as chat, audio, video, whiteboards, and web tours. Also try other tools such as Yugma.

Elluminate is an online collaboration system that allows students and faculty to hold live synchronous class sessions. Members of the class can use a chat space to type text messages and receive responses from others. They can also use a microphone to verbally speak with each other. A whiteboard is available for slides and other types of messages.

WiZiQ is another online learning platform that is designed to help students and teachers; provides an online virtual classroom learning environment and can serve as a social networking site bringing together educators and students.

Yugma is a free web collaboration service that enables people to instantly connect over the internet to communicate and share content and ideas.


Many of today's phones can share text, images, and documents (FAX) along with traditional audio communication.

Multi-User Virtual Environments

Globe Theatre in Second LifeAn increasing number of courses are integrating MUVE (Multi User Virtual Environments) such as Second Life in their courses. In these web-based virtual worlds, each student creates an avatar that can move around and interact with others.

The image on the right shows a class exploring the virtual Globe Theatre in Second Life.

To explore places you might wish to take your students in Second Life, go to our Second Life SLurls Wiki.

Synchronous (real-time, live interaction) communication is preferred by those who like the social presence of a live course. Because this communication more closely approximates a traditional course, some people feel more comfortable in this learning environment.

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Explore the options for synchronous communication.

List the pros and cons of incorporating a live component into your online course.

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