The New York Times has an article today describing a research study conducted jointly by Ohio State University and the University of California. The study examined the use of instant messaging and produced some interesting observations, particularly with regards to the time element. In summary, the study determined that IM actually encouraged users to be more “strategic” and concise in their communication. Additionally, IM required less time than phone conversations or email communications. Further, users often utilized IM as a “less intrusive” means of determining whether their colleagues were available than more traditional communication tools.
The traditional route for schools has been to ban IM. It is viewed as a distraction and a time-sucking diversion, rather than a communication tool. Maybe this needs rethinking in an era where teachers’ time demands are higher than ever. So much resistance to revolutionary changes in practice has been attributed to a lack of time for learning new approaches. If IM can squeeze a few spare minutes out of a teacher’s work week, might its use in our schools be worth reconsidering?