Chatting on the Internet is another way for you to communicate with one or more people in a synchronous manner. Their are several types of chat which can be used for this type of communication. First, there is text-based chat. One of the most popular is instant messaging. Take a look at the text-based chat capabilities with Instant Messenger. This type of chat can be used in a one-on-one buddy situation or with multiple buddies.

There are many different types of chat software available and most is of the freeware or shareware type so that it can be downloaded and used almost immediately. The oldest and the most prevalent chat technology is Internet Relay Chat or IRC for short. To use this type of chat network, you need to download a program called mIRC for the Windows 95/98 or Ircle for the Mac. This software allows you to log on to an IRC server through an Internet connection.

  • Download mIRC (Windows 95/98/NT/2000 users)
    • This page also offers extensive help in getting started with IRC.
  • Download Ircle (Mac users)
    • This page also offers extensive help with setup and use of IRC.

    For additional help, visit "The IRC Prelude" which shows you how to join a chat "channel" and how to enter commands once you are on a channel.

With the success of IRC, other chat systems and programs have sprung up as well. Some programs operate alone, but many, such as iChat, are now available as plug-ins for your Web browser so you can chat right on the Web.


iChat is available for both the Mac and the PC and is compatible with both of the most popular browsers, Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator.

ICQ ("I Seek You")- A Guided Tour

    ICQ has free downloadable software which allows you to see whose online at any given time and communicate with them. After downloading the software, ICQ allows you to chat with both voice and text and send messages and files.

A second type of chat is one which provides a combination of both audio and visual chat capabilities. This type of chat requires a camera, microphone to send audio chat and speakers to receive audio chat. CNET provides several cautions about this type of chat:

    • This type of chat is computer resource intensive, so check system requirements carefully before investing in the equipment needed to share in this type of chat.
    • Remember that this type of chat allows you not only to speak to strangers in your own voice, but be seen by strangers as well.

One of the most popular audio/video chat systems is CU-SeeMe. The Global Schoolhouse provides
a directory of schools that are using CU-SeeMe in a classroom setting.

Additional resources related to videoconferencing can be found at "Videoconferencing for Learning." This site provides ideas and examples of how this audio/video technology can be used to enhance your classroom environment.

©2000-2002 April A. Cleveland for Science Junction, NC State University.
All rights reserved.
Last updated 01/24/02

Electronic Communications  | Learning to Use Technology  | Teaching With Technology |