What is Using the Internet as a Communication Tool?
The Internet has become for many Americans and others around the world a major channel for communication. Three of these tools for communication that Internet users take advantage of are email, Instant Messaging, and asynchronous discussions. Through email, the Internet has replaced to a large degree the U.S. Postal service because of the speed and convenience by which communication is made possible and which many prefer. Email (electronic mail) is communication through the electronic communications system. Through email, messages are typed, sent, stored on ones computer, and retrieved. A message can be composed and sent to multiple addresses, and massages that are received can be forwarded on to new recipients. Billions of emails are sent out throughout the world every day. The are received within by the recipients usually within moments. For educational purposes, email has been an important tool by which instructors at the elementary and secondary level and parents can keep communication lines open. It has also helped students maintain a closer contact with instructors at all levels of education.
Instant messaging is another tool with which to communicate online. Instant messaging, or IM, is more instantaneous than email. With IM, a user maintains a list of people with whom she wants to communicate, called her buddy list. When she goes online, she can check her buddy list to see who else is online and can communicate with anyone else on her list who is online. Like email, with IM the users communicate by typing their messages to one another. The messages show up on a small window on the computer screen. Both the user and her buddy can see the messages on their screens. As soon as she types and sends her message, both users can see the message and the messages stay up for the duration of the conversation. On IM, a user can also send vidoes, images, files, links to websites, and sounds. Instant messaging can also be set up to work like a phone. Most cell phones are capable of sending instant messages.
Asynchronous discussion is an educational online tool by which instructors and students can interact via discussions without the constraints of time and classrooms. An effort is made in asynchronous discussions to mimic the traditional discussions of face-to-face classroom. The asynchronous discussions typically require that students provide their own reflection or critical analysis of the topic being discussed. Rubrics have been drawn up to ensure quality discussions from the students.