Do you use instant messaging of any kind with your students, whether during live online lecture sessions or for office hours or tutoring help? What platform do you use? (I know at least some of you have been experimenting with Google chat, now available through the new student email accounts.) If you're interested in thinking about this, or refining how you use instant messaging with your students, here's a short article with a few strategies.
And as an aside, I want to make sure (since I just talked to an ELI faculty member who didn't know this) that you are all aware that ELI offers students a chat service during regular business hours (including our Saturday hours). Chat duty rotates among the Course Specialists, counselors, registration staff, Jana, and Barbara. Using chat, we can help students quickly with simple questions (where to find certain information on the website, when classes start, how to pay for classes, etc.) or set up a time to talk to them in more depth when they have more complicated questions. Students can access chat from the ELI website by clicking the chat button on the bottom left. If you are curious about what it's like, log on yourself and chat for a moment with a staff member!