Social Networking - Communication




Communication Tools


communicationtools.pngThere are a wide range of social networking tools that can be used to communicate - and most of them are free! You may already be familiar with some of them - Skype, Gtalk, Eyejot, Nabble and Google Groups. Each of these tools offer options for individuals and/or groups to communicate with each other - either asynchronously and/or in real-time.

This section provides information on a number of communication tools you could use one-to-one communication, class management and for online tutorials and support to students. Click on the links below for further information:

  1. Free Email Accounts
  2. Instant Messaging and voice chat tools
  3. Online Meeting and Video Conferencing Tools
  4. Group tools - forums and mailing lists
  5. Find out more about Communication Tools
  6. What's Next?

Activities for this topic


Learners who are completing the Social Networking Course should refer to the Moodle site for more information about the activities provided:


1. Free Email Accounts

As a TAFE Staff member or student you receive a free email account. You will be given the details as part of your enrollment/employment i.e your user name and password. You then log onto the Department of Education and Training (DET) portal and access your email and resources on how to use your email account. There are also a wide range of free email services available and most have similar features and how to guides:
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2. Instant Messaging and Voice Chat Tools

voicethread.jpgInstant messaging (IM) is a form of real-time direct text-based communication between two or more people using personal computers or other devices, along with shared software. The user's text is conveyed over the Internet. More advanced instant messaging software clients also allow enhanced modes of communication, such as live voice or video calling. Wikipedia accessed 27/1/11. Instant Messaging and Voice Chat tools allow users to connect online and speak to each other via a microphone and/or headset. These tools are fantastic for quick and easy communication as they include tools which enable both quick text based chats and longer voice conversations. Some of these tools also have video chat built in. Note: Many free email services now include built-in instant messaging tools. When selecting the tools and suites you will use, consider these options as they can make it easier to keep track of all of your connections.
The following is a list of well know free instant messaging and voice tools that are recommended:
  • Skype allows users to make voice calls over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system. Skype has also become popular for its additional features which include instant messaging, file transfer, and video conferencing. Skype is presently not supported by DET and the site is blocked, however many students use it for social networking.
  • Facebook is a social network service and has more than 600 million active users (January2011). Users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common interest user groups, organized by workplace, school, or college, or other characteristics. Again Facebook is blocked on the DET Network but this may change in the near future as the benefits in educational delivery are being recognised and policy and procedures on the use of social networking are being develop for staff and students.
  • Yahoo!Messenger is an advertisement-supported instant messaging service provided by Yahoo!. It is provided free of charge and can be downloaded and used with a generic "Yahoo! ID" which also allows access to other Yahoo! services, such as Yahoo! Mail, where users can be automatically notified when they receive new email. Yahoo! also offers PC-PC, PC-Phone and Phone-to-PC service, file transfers, webcam hosting, text messaging service, and chat rooms in various categories.
  • Voicethread: is a fantastic tool for creating conversations and collaborations between students and educators. It allows people to post media artifacts - for example a document, a slide presentation, a video, or a collection of photos and invite people to add text or audio comments. SWSI How-To Guide: Voicethread
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3. Online Meeting and Video Conferencing Tools

Virtual conferencing is a great way of holding meetings online. There are two methods by which you can have a virtual conference. You can have a **web** or **video** conference. With a web conference the facilitator and participants are at their respective desktops and the conference is held online using the Internet. For video conferencing the facilitator and participants need to be in specific locations where video-conferencing equipment is set up. The three virtual conferencing platforms which are available to you are:
  • Adobe Connect
  • video conferencing
  • Bridgit

To find out more go to course on video conferencing
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4. Group Tools - Forums and Mailing Lists

A forum is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are at least temporarily archived. Also, depending on the access level of a user and/or the forum set-up, a posted message might need to be approved by a moderator before it becomes visible.Forums have their own language; e.g. A single conversation is called a 'thread'. A forum is hierarchical or tree-like in structure.Depending on the forum set-up, users can be anonymous or have to register with the forum and then subsequently log in in order to post messages. Usually you do not have to log in to read existing messages. At this Institute we use forums in Moodle. You will learn more about forums when you are studying online. Online forums are also a great way to find out how to use many of the eLearning tools available on the web or products or to engage in debate about topics that interest you.

Mailing lists are special usage of email that allows for widespread distribution of information to many Internet users. It is similar to a traditional mailing list — a list of names and addresses — as might be kept by an organisation for sending publications to its members or customers, but typically refers to four things — a list of email addresses, the people ("subscribers") receiving mail at those addresses, the publications (e-mail messages) sent to those addresses, and a reflector, which is a single e-mail address that, when designated as the recipient of a message, will send a copy of that message to all of the subscribers. There are two types: announcement lists which is a one-way source of information and can only be posted by selected people. Discussion lists allow any subscriber to make a post and are usually topic based.

Note:There is a risk of spamming (the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately) if you are on a mailing list. To protect yourself learn about anti-Spam techniques
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5. Find out more about Communication Tools


Check out the following links for further information:

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6. What's Next?

    1. If you are completing the Social Networking Course, visit the Moodle site and complete the activities for Topic 10: Online Communication Tools .
    2. Check out the next section of the SWSI Social Networking Wiki - Video Sharing .
    3. If you are exploring Social Networking independently, check out the Social Networking Matrix and select the tools that will be using in your teaching practice.

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