What are Real-Time Communication Tools?

Today, people expect fast and seamless communications with each other, facilitated by technology. Real-time communication tools have been developed and integrated into a variety of platforms such as LMS and organizations’ websites to create full-duplex channels where multiple users can communicate information and share ideas synchronously and asynchronously. Many people are already familiar live chats, video conferencing, and unified communications, all of which are now widely accessible and have broadened the reach of many institutions. For example, students in China can complete college courses in America without ever leaving home, engaging in live discussion forums that enable students to ask questions and collaborate in real time. Web development platforms, like Wordpress, have become more accessible and user friendly overtime making it easier than ever to integrate discussion forum plug-ins onto sites that foster seamless communications. As new tools such as Slack emerge, education leaders are pondering how real-time messaging and archiving applications can be used to improve learning and productivity while fostering deeper communities of practice.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to academic and research libraries?

  • Academic and research libraries have traditionally been siloed between departments, both within the library and the larger institution. Real-time communication tools allow improved communication within the library, as well as the ability to offer a greater range of programs and services to users who may not ever come to campus, or are located at a satellite location.- mheller1 mheller1 Nov 3, 2016
  • Slack and similar online communication technologies have been crucial to communication about development and service efforts across institutions. For example, at the University of Michigan, we regularly use Slack and Bluejeans to communicate between HathiTrust, the University of Illinois, Indiana University, and the California Digital Library to maximize human resources across institutions and make services more efficient and effective. Additionally, many communication tools are being used to help with open source development communities, such as the Hydra community.- vacekrae vacekrae Oct 10, 2016

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Privacy and content ownership are crucial issues when selecting a platform. For instance, do you host WordPress locally, or do you require students to use WordPress.com? Is it fair to ask students to leave potentially sensitive course information on non-university servers? Are chat services encrypted? What sort of logs are kept. All these new platforms are exciting, but being deliberate about which are selected is crucial. Ease of use often trumps everything else. I also think it's important to recognize that these platforms may not actually differ from social networks. Students do all their communication with peers within social networks, and while in the past may have been unwilling to engage with authority in social networks, I believe that is no longer the case. - mheller1 mheller1 Nov 3, 2016
  • According to my experience in nearly any project people use another tool for communication. It depends very much from the community you are involved. So it would be quite a challenge for a library to select a tool that would be used by most people, especially when you are involved in cooperation with people from other institutions. And even in our small university we use a set of different tools (depending from department or research group): Basecamp, Coltero, Yammer, Confluence and others. Of course also Wordpress, Dropbox, Google Docs and Drive... - rudolf.mumenthaler rudolf.mumenthaler Nov 7, 2016
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(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on academic and research libraries?

  • Libraries have been using blogging tools and chat services for 15-20 years, but as the nature of platforms changes they have to continue following the new ones. So it's something that will always be something that is crucial to stay focused on and have people continually learning, especially for tools that are used heavily outside of academia (e.g. you will have to learn the chat feature in your institution's LMS, but you will have to force yourself to learn Slack if it's outside your campus offerings.)- mheller1 mheller1 Nov 3, 2016
  • The increasing importance for researchers to socialise their research as well as using social media for academic purposes provides opportunities for libraries to support them through training and awareness of appropriate tools and also personal archiving requirements. Capturing and archiving the interactions (eg. comments on blogs, tweets, etc.) may become a facet of assisting researchers to develop their personalised data management plans. - mylee.joseph mylee.joseph Nov 8, 2016
  • - liusq liusq Nov 12, 2016Real-time communiation tools have been widlely used worldwide in librareis, such as chat references, library instructions,etc. More and more users want to reach librarians virtaully and immediately, therefore real-time communications technogoly will affect library services definitely.

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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