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Synchronous Discussion in Online Courses: A Pedagogical Strategy for Taming the Chat Beast

I have always hated Internet chat rooms and studiously avoided them. To me, they are chaotic, confusing, and frustrating. I have also accepted the fact that on this question I am probably in the minority. The immediacy of chat can be a significant factor in building online community. Short of high bandwidth audio/video conferencing, it is as close an approximation to face-to-face interaction as you will get in an online course. This seemed to be particularly the case in my graduate courses where

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