Instant Messaging: Not Just for Kids: This Technology Facilitates Real-Time Conversations and Virtual Meetings. (the Online Edge)

By Dyrli, Odvard Egil | District Administration, July 2002 | Go to article overview

Instant Messaging: Not Just for Kids: This Technology Facilitates Real-Time Conversations and Virtual Meetings. (the Online Edge)


Dyrli, Odvard Egil, District Administration


It was only 10 years ago that I wrote the first article for a leading K-12 technology education magazine on the then-new phenomenon called the Internet. I used the Internet to communicate with teacher education colleagues, participate in online discussion groups, do online research and download resources. But relatively few K-12 schools were yet involved. Therefore, in addition to explaining the fundamentals, showing examples of pioneering applications and presenting connection alternatives, I shared my belief that the online exchange of information would likely revolutionize education. The rest, as they say, is history.

In gathering information for that artcle, I interviewed people around the country by e-mail, and in one particular case, my message to the author of an early book on the subject arrived while we were both online. Since she happened to respond immediately, we spent the next half-hour in a unique real-time conversation using e-mail. But even though that was an awkward format for discussion, we agreed that the Internet held potential for such communication, if we could know when the people we wanted to contact were available.

MESSAGING TECHNOLOGIES The development of Internet technologies, such as instant messaging, makes real-time communications quick and easy. These services allow users to see when people in their address books or "buddy lists" are online, send instant text messages that suddenly appear on their computer screens, hold group conversations, and even transmit voice and video with the click of a mouse.

While there are presently more than 40 such services, the major free options include America Online's AOL Instant Messenger (www.aim.com), Microsoft's MSN Messenger (messeng.msn.com), Yahoo Messenger (messenger.yahoo.com), and ICQ--an acronym for "I seek you"-0(icq.com), also owned by AOL. The AOL Instant Messenger is the industry's largest IM network, with more than 100 million users and 90 percent of the market. But, millions of members have also been amassed for the Microsoft and Yahoo products. …

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