WiscChat (Psi) - How to Offer "virtual office hours" to Your Students
WiscChat allows users to not only communicate with each other on a one-to-one basis, but to sustain many people in a "virtual chat room." Instructors can use these chat rooms for a class discussion room or to host virtual office hours. These chat rooms can be made persistent so that they can be used semester to semester without needing to be recreated or reconfigured each time.
WiscChat chat rooms allow for multi-user chat sessions, wherein each participant of the room can converse with other participants (either publicly or privately) without needing to have the other participants in their own WiscChat roster.
Note: Due to its extensive configuration controls over chat rooms, Psi is the recommended client for configuring and administering chat rooms. Once the chat room is created and configured, other clients can be used to participate in the chat room.
Here is an example showing how to create a chat room for "virtual office hours":
Create a New Chat Room
First, decide whether each section will have its own chat room, or if multiple sections will use the same room. Choose a naming scheme that is descriptive and unique (e.g. philosophy_101.1 for Section 1 of Philosophy 101).
Use the Creating/Joining a Chat Room document for instructions for creating the room using Psi.
Configure the Chat Room
- Within the chat room window, click on the down arrow, (actions menu). The actions menu will appear:
- Select Configure Room. The 'Room Configuration' screen will appear:
- Room Affiliations:
- We recommend setting up each instructor as an owner or administrator of the room. This will allow them to reconfigure and moderate the room.
- Students can be added as members if there is a need to restrict access to the room. However, this may be a tedious process if there are many students, and there exist other ways to restrict access to the room include requiring a password or making the chat room a hidden room.
- General Configuration:
- Room Title
- This title will be displayed under the Chatrooms section within the 'Service Discovery' screen. The room title should be unique and descriptive (e.g. "Philosophy 101, Section 1" for Section 1 of Philosophy 101).
- Make room persistent
- Check the "Make room persistent" checkbox to ensure that the chat room will be available throughout the semester, regardless of whether there are any user in the chat room.
- Make room public searchable
- If checked, the room will be listed within the 'Service Discovery' screen, under the Chatrooms section. If unchecked, the room will be "hidden" and it is important that the students know the exact name of the room so they can join it.
- Make participants list public
- If checked, the participants of the room will be listed within the 'Service Discovery' screen, under the Chatrooms section. This might act as a quick way for students to see if their instructor is in the chat room. Unchecked, this setting will keep the users in the room anonymous.
- Make room password protected
- Users will be prompted to enter a password when they attempt to join the room. This can be used to restrict entry to the chat room, but it will require that all students who require entry to the room know the password.
- If a password is set, users will be required to enter a password before they can join the room.
- Present real JIDs to
- By default, only moderators can see the JID (user@domain) of the participants. Participants will only see the nick name of other participants. This default setting will allow the students to remain anonymous if they wish.
- Make room members-only
- Only members of a room are allowed to join the room. This requires that all students be entered as members of the room in the affiliations tab - see above.
- Default users as participants
- By default, users who join the room will join as participants. If unchecked, users will join as visitors, which only allows them to view the chat room content, and cannot chat within the room.
- Allow users to change subject
- This will allow users to change the Topic heading of the chat room.
- Allow users to send private messages
- Allows users to chat directly with other members of the chat room by selecting them from the members list. This will allow for private questions to instructors or other students.
- Allow users to query other users
- If unchecked, users will not be allowed to get user VCard information, via the 'User Info' sub-menu selection, allowing for student anonymity.
- Allow user to send invites
- Allows users to invite others to the chat room.
- Destroy Room
- This button will delete the chat room from the system.
Use the Configuring a Chat Room document for more information about configuring the room using Psi.
Publicize the Chat Room
We recommend that instructions be provided to students informing them about the existence of the chat room as well as some instructions for use. Something like the following could be provided on the syllabus or course website:
Virtual Office Hours
WiscChat chat room name & title: philosophy_101.1 (Philosophy 101, Section 1)
Hours: Monday 3:00pm-5:00pm, Wednesday 1:00pm-2:30pm
*TA's will be labeled as Moderators of the chat room, and will be titled like "Paul Jones (TA)"
Instructions for joining the chat room: https://kb.wisc.edu/wiscmail/page.php?id=6559
Use the Chat Room
Instructors should join the chat room during the published times. The students can connect to the room during these specified times. Students can connect anytime if they just want to chat with other classmates. Students can either post their questions/comments to the public chat room, or they can chat privately with the instructor or other students by sending a private message to someone in the room member list.
Double-click on the user within the chat room to send them a private message.