In the previous installment of this series, we discussed how to use the Forums. In this post, I will be covering our community’s Chat Rooms and Chat Events.
Chances are, if you’ve participated in an online chat room (sometimes called live chat) or heard about them then you have noticed they sometimes get a bad rap. Stories of creepy people trying to find out personal information about you and soliciting you for unsavory things in a dark alley are common. Luckily, Career Step’s Online Community is clean, fun, friendly, and the light is always on (no dark alleys here). We have two main types of chats available: Chat Rooms and Chat Events. Let’s dive in.
Career Step has several chat rooms available. The main chat rooms are the Study Rooms. There is a study room for each of the programs Career Step teaches. These study rooms are a great place for you to interact with other students who are in your program. They provide a real-time, informal, and laid-back way to get assistance from your peers or simply to build some comradery. Some students have even organized study groups that meet at specific times in a chat room. The study rooms are great places for everyone.
The Ask an Instructor chat room is the other main chat room. This chat room provides a place for students to pop in during normal business hours (Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST) and ask a quick question to one of their instructors. This chat room is staffed by an instructor from each of the programs.
The Ask an Instructor chat is super handy if you can’t get to a phone but you want to ask a question in real time. Instructors typically answer within a couple of minutes, unless they have a prior engagement with another learner.
These chat rooms do not maintain a running transcript of everything said in them, so they are monitored carefully by our moderators to ensure that everyone is able to have a positive experience. The last 100 posts do remain in the window, though, so you can read back a bit if you need to catch up on the conversation.
The second type of chat available is a Chat Event. Chat Events are specifically scheduled live chat sessions that occur at designated times. They usually have a specific topic being covered and they are moderated. This means that questions will go into a queue and they will be answered from there instead of being posted live in the chat window immediately after someone presses Post. This gives the guest speaker or host of the chat time to read the questions and answer them appropriately before moving forward. In unmoderated chats (like the Ask an Instructor chat) it can become rather chaotic at times with tons of people posting questions.
Chat events are used for all kinds of purposes. For example, when we have employers come to talk to our students and graduates about employment opportunities, those discussions occur in chat events. They’re also great for Q&A sessions between our various support teams and our community population. An example of this is our wildly popular Thursday Moderated Chat series for our MT/MTE students and graduates. Our MT/MTE Instructors, Skills Assessment, and Graduate Support teams rotate throughout each month to answer questions about the course content, final exams, and employment after graduation.
Chat event transcripts are archived after the chat event ends, so if you can’t attend something live, you can always read the transcript later. You can find those in the Chat Archive section of the Chats tab.
How to Participate
Participating in the chat rooms and events is very easy. Just log in to your community account, and click on the Chats tab. Once there, just select the room or event you wish and start chatting by typing your post in the box below the chat window and pressing Enter or clicking the Post button.
You can see who’s in the chat room by looking at the roster to the right of the chat window.
It’s just that simple!
As in real life interactions, there are some guidelines of social interactions that can help you to communicate effectively in online environments like chat rooms and forums. Career Step has outlined a number of these in our Terms of Service for the community. You can find a link to that at the bottom of any page inside the community. We wanted to cover a few basics here, though, so you can get up and running right away.
1. Don’t use ALL CAPITALS.
Using all caps is seen as shouting/yelling and viewed as rude in chat rooms and forums. Refrain from typing in all caps unless you are really trying to emphasize something important. If you are using them because you really are mad, it’s likely better that you simply refrain from posting until you’ve had time to calm down.
2. B-e. P-a-t-i-e-n-t.
Please try to be patient and wait if another member is slow to respond to you during a conversation, especially in the Ask an Instructor chat room. The instructors in there are also attempting to answer phone calls and emails while they are in the chat room and may be unable to respond for a couple of minutes. They will respond when they are able to answer.
3. Be ☺ friendly ☺ and ☺ considerate ☺.
Career Step’s Online Community is filled with so many different people from all walks of life and nationalities. Remember, these are real people you are interacting with and they may have differing opinions, views, and may come from different cultures. Please treat those you encounter with respect and you will receive respect in return.
In my experience as a community administrator, topics dealing with religion and politics tend to be particularly volatile. Please use common courtesy and kindness in dealing with these topics should they arise. You’ll have a much more positive experience if you do.
4. Avoid profanity and vulgar topics. #%@%^ *#$%@!!
Career Step’s Community site employs a profanity filter so if you do try to use one of the words in its filter, asterisks will show up in place of the word, but that doesn’t mean that using profanity is a good idea. As we’ve heard so many times before, “Use your words.” Likewise, please try to refrain from discussing vulgar or explicit topics. A good rule of thumb: If you’d be embarrassed for it to be read aloud to your employer or your child, you probably shouldn’t post it.
We hope this information helps you get started with our online community. Our main focus is to help link our students and graduates across the world. Think of it as a substitute for a worldwide classroom. We hope to see you all over there!