2 thoughts on “In praise of online chats

  1. You know, I’ve done live chats in other work stuff but managed to totally forget about them when thinking of research engagement opportunities! So thanks for the reminder.

    How do you think the I’m a Scientist chatroom compares to something like a Facebook page?


    • I think they are different, but both have their uses.

      Chatroom advantages:
      It’s immediate and you are all there at the same time.
      This means, among other things, that you can ask clarifying questions, and thrash something out (eg, in our case, how to design an experiment).
      There’s more feeling of having ‘met’ each other.
      It’s fun, exciting, immediate. It feels like an ‘occasion’.
      It can be self-contained.
      The researcher can just donate an hour of their time and it’s done.
      In the I’m a Scientist event chats the kids treat it very informally and ask the scientists for their favourite jokes, football teams, etc. It’s more friendly.
      If you edit and put up the transcript online, you can refer back to it and it’s easier for people to find and share than a Facebook thread.

      Facebook – well, there’s lots of different things you can do with Facebook. But I guess the nearest equivalent to a single live chat is a thread in a group. We’ve done that with an expert who for whatever reason didn’t want to do a live chat.

      We got more people contributing, because they are right there in the group and don’t need to click anywhere else.
      People can contribute when they have time, at different times from each other.
      Or come back later with another question they’ve thought of.
      Threads could run for a couple of days or more.
      I felt they tended to peter out a bit though. And are harder to refer back to or share outside the group.

      Does that help?

      Facebook pages I don’t really know much about, TBH. And as a ‘customer’ I often find them quite confusing. But I may not be typical! Facebook groups have lots of uses, but they are a lot of work to admin (more really than I’d anticipated). And are quite a long term thing.


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