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Add Live Chat to Your Online Courses

image1.jpgThe Chat plug-in for the Weblearning E-Learning System enables you to integrate a live chat room directly into your Weblearning courses where you (the Course Admin or Instructor) can chat in real-time with your users. The chat room itself can be utilized in multiple ways – simply chatting with users, answering question in real time, administering online oral exams, or enhancing the overall distance-learning experience.

In this article I’ll show you how to integrate the most basic form of the chat room plug-in into one of your courses (there are multiple ways to integrate the chat room, for more information on the different methods you can use with this plug-in please refer to the plug-in documentation).

To get started let’s take a look at how you can access the chat plugin in your account that will allow you to chat with your users, configure the chat settings, and view the plug-in documentation.

You can find the Chat Room Plugin by going to the Courses tab, and then clicking on the Plug-ins sub-tab.

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Although I’ll be touching on some of the basics of the chat room in this article, before you start heavily using the Chat plug-in, I would recommend reviewing the plug-in documentation to get a better idea of how the chat room interface itself works. To view the plug-in documentation click the Help icon located in the plug-in toolbar.

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Now let’s add the chat room to one of our courses. Adding a chat room to one of your courses is as easy as dragging a placeholder into the Course Designer. To begin, click on the Courses tab and then the List All sub-tab.

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This will bring up a listing of all the courses you’ve created in your Weblearning E-Learning System account. Now click the Pencil (edit) icon to the right of the course you would like to place the chat room into.

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This will bring that course into a more detailed view where you can edit the course design, control user access, rename the course, and more. In this case we want to go into the Course Designer so that we may add our placeholders for the chat room, so click on the Design option.

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In this case, I’m going to insert the chat room so that it appears directly in the course pages under the 4th tab of my course. The first thing I’m going to do is, in the Course Designer, click on the tab that says “Page 4″ and edit the name of that tab to read “Chat”.

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Next I’m going to take the placeholder for the inline chat (inline meaning that the chat will appear directly on the course page itself, instead of opening up in a new window) and drag-and-drop it into the content for that course page. In this case the placeholder I’m looking for is [[[CHAT_ROOM_INLINE_ALL]]].

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Once I’ve dragged the placeholder for my chat room into the content area for that course, I’m going to scroll to the bottom of the page and click the Submit Changes button to save my changes.

Now when one of my users logs into my course they’ll see a fourth tab named “Chat”. When they click on that tab, they’ll be brought directly into the chat room for that course where they’ll see a list of any other users who are also in that course chat room (plus me as the Proctor if I also happen to be in chat) along with the chat itself.

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Since both myself, the Proctor, and a user are in chat we can start to actually chat with one another. Let’s say the user types this into the message box and presses Send.

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On the admin side of things I would see this in my chat room. Not only do I see the message that the user typed into the chat room, but I also see a listing of all students who are currently in a chat room (in this case there is only one user with me in chat).

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I can reply back to the user in the same fashion, by typing in a message in the message box and clicking the Send button. You can even dress up your messages by adding bold, italic, and underline fonts, inserting links, or using emoticons.

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As I previously mentioned, this is just a very basic example of how to integrate and use the Chat Room. You can also set up the chat room to invite users who may be logged into a course but have yet to enter chat, have private conversations with users, integrate custom avatars to give your courses a sense of “community” and more.

If you would like to see it in action, you can sign up for a demo Weblearning account

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The Weblearning E-Learning System is a powerful, budget-friendly, easy-to-use Online E-Learning System for authoring, managing, and tracking online learning presentations and tests. To try it FREE, go to the Weblearning E-Learning System Sign-up Form.

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