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Virtual Office Hours as Cyberinfrastructure: The Case Study of Instant Messaging


Learning Inquiry Volume 3, Number 3, ISSN 1558-2973


Although out-of-class communication enhances students' learning experience, students' use of office hours has been limited. As the learning infrastructures of the social sciences and humanities have undergone a range of changes since the diffusion of digital networks, new opportunities emerge to increase out-of-class communication. Hence, it is important to investigate the role of cyberinfrastructures as valuable alternatives or supplements to existing infrastructures in the learning process. This paper proposes that virtual office hours can be a form of cyberinfrastructure that provides new possibilities for student-faculty interaction. We examine students' perceptions of instant messaging as a tool for offering virtual office hours and enhancing student-faculty interaction. Students report that instant messaging is a useful tool for virtual office hours because of its convenience, interactivity, and ease of use. While students only made limited use of it when it was actually offered as an alternative to regular office hours, it represents an important new avenue for interaction. We outline reasons for students' limited use of instant messaging for virtual office hours and discuss a series of barriers and potential solutions.


Balayeva, J. & Quan-Haase, A. (2009). Virtual Office Hours as Cyberinfrastructure: The Case Study of Instant Messaging. Learning Inquiry, 3(3), 115-130. Retrieved November 27, 2021 from .

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