Margaret Soltan on Gchat

Professor Margaret Soltan, via Columbia News Service, talking about Gchat and professor-student interaction:

For Margaret Soltan, an English professor at George Washington University, Gchat is wonderful for connecting with students outside of class.

Over the years, the tech-savvy teacher has accumulated dozens of students on her Gchat list, and she chats with them frequently. While not all realize that she can “see” them until she pings them for the first time—which, to be sure, can catch some off guard—she occasionally uses the tool to coordinate conferences or discuss letters of recommendation when time is tight. It’s convenient, she says.

Soltan also likes perusing students’ status messages. “They give me a little window” into them, she says. “They are like little mini-diaries of student life.”

Sometimes Soltan takes her observations a step further: When she spots a misspelling, she isn’t shy about pointing it out. “I’ll Gchat them and say, ‘Revise your message!’” she says, laughing. She tells them she’s joking a few seconds later—but they’re usually apologetic and a little embarrassed.

“I suppose you’re vulnerable to this kind of thing,” Soltan says. “Your crazy English professor bursts in and tells you to fix your spelling error!”

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