Real-Time Discussion Tool

Prerequisites:

  • Ability to download the ChatNet software onto the computer you are using (i.e. internet connection, web browser, ability to write new files on your computer, and 5M available disk space)
  • Connection information from your facilitator such as the name of the chat server you will connect to, the name of the chat channel/room to go to, and license information. Find out from your facilitators whether a set of licenses was purchased for your course, or whether you need to make the purchase.
  • Basic keyboarding skills

Purpose:

To communicate online with other participant(s) and facilitator(s)

Instructions:

System Requirements and Cost

ChatNet is an easy-to-use, real-time chat software program. It requires:

ChatNet Pricing Options: Personal Edition, $25; 10-User License, $99; 50-User License, $249; 250-User License, $499. Check with your facilitator if you can obtain one of the multiple user licenses instead of a personal edition. Prices quoted as July 1, 1998.

Downloading and Installing ChatNet

Basic instructions taken from the ChatNet User's Manual v2.1 are included on this page to get you started. There is a detailed manual, including graphics, that is available to the user upon downloading. It is recommended that the participants read this manual as needed. However, the features needed in this course are all described on this page. The last page contains the registration form or you may register online.

ChatNet uses the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) protocol. To use it, you need to download the ChatNet software for users. Note that this is not the same system as AOL chat, or MSN chat, or a chat you use inside of a web page!. If you are using these, you will not be able to attend class and talk to your colleagues because they will be using a different system. Instead, please download the ChatNet software using the instructions below.

The file you need to download is 1.4 MB and is called chatnet2.3.hqx. It is a self-extracting archive. We recommend that you print this page, so you can follow the instructions below on this web page while you are using the download site. Download this software from:

http://www.elsinc.com/chatnet.html

  1. Download the software -
    1. Scroll down near the bottom of the page and click once (not twice) on the Download Chatnet Demo link.
    2. A box will pop up saying Save chatnet2.3.hqx, then it will be opened with StuffitExpander and a box will pop up saying Binhex Decode. Finally, a box will pop up saying Extracting. You don't need to do anything with these boxes. When the Extracting box disappears, the download has been completed. If your browser does not automatically launch the Stuffit Expander helper application, then manually drag the chatnet2.3.hqx file over your Stuffit Expander application to "unstuff" it.
  2. Installing ChatNet -
    1. Now you need to know where your browser put the files it just downloaded. To find this out:
      1. If you are using Netscape 4, from the Edit menu, choose Preferences. In the Navigator preferences, click on Applications. At the bottom of the preferences box, it says Download files to: and then lists a directory. That is the directory you will find your files in.
      2. If you are using Internet Explorer 4, from the Edit menu, choose Preferences. In the Receiving Files preferences, click on Download Options. At the top of the preferences box, it says Download Folder: and then lists a location. That is the folder you will find your downloaded files in.
    2. Go to that folder. You will see three things: chatnet2.3.hqx, chatnet2.3.sea, and ChatNet v2.3 files. The hqx and sea files are temporary files for the self extracting archive and decoded format of the software. You do not need these anymore. The ChatNet v2.3 folder contains the files you need to keep. Move this folder to wherever you keep your applications on your computer.
    3. Double-click on the ChatNet v2.3 folder to open it.
    4. Double-click on the ChatNet Installer. Click on Continue.
    5. Keep the Easy Install option. Select the desired install location. Then click on the Install button.
    6. A box will pop up saying the installation was successful and you need to restart your computer. Click on the Restart button.

Connecting to a Chat Server Using ChatNet

  1. Once your computer is restarted, establish your connection to the Internet using your modem or network connection. You must be connected to the Internet before you can start chatting.
  2. Then launch ChatNet by opening the ChatNet v2.3 folder and double-clicking on the ChatNet program.
  3. Now you must register your ChatNet program. If you do not register, you will be cut off after 20 minutes of chatting. Click on the Authorize button and enter the license information sent by your facilitator. The ChatNet demo software will become a permanent version once you enter the registration information from your purchase.
  4. Next you need to configure the ChatNet software. From the Preferences menu, select Chatnet Preferences.
  5. Click on the IRC Prefs button.
  6. Click on the IRC Servers button.

    The IRC Servers button accesses the IRC Servers List editor screen. A default list of IRC servers with ports assigned is displayed and can be modified. The format for entering a new IRC server is to make a new line and type the server namefollowed by a colon ( : ) and then the port number. Since servers can be accessed through multiple ports, it is possible to insert a server name with multiple port options. Your facilitator will give you the server name and port number(s) you need to add to your server list.

    This list of servers and ports appear at the login screen in the server pop-up window just below the User Info box.

    Using the information from your facilitator, enter the server name followed by a colon and then the port number in this window. For example, if our IRC server was computername.uchicago.edu and the port number was 6667, you would complete the following steps: highlight one of the semicolons in the IRC Server List window, then type computername.uchicago.edu:6667

  7. Then click on OK in all three dialog boxes and the server is added to the list and ready to use for your scheduled chat.
  8. Now your ChatNet window should look similar to the below window. In this example, the user setup a nickname of elstech and an IRC server of us.undernet.org:6662

  9. Set the pop-up menu (above Nickname) to IRC if it does not already say that.
  10. Type a nickname in the Nickname box. Nicknames must be unique and are usually limited to nine characters. Usually people use their first name or first name and first initial of their last name. If ChatNet identifies someone else is already using that nickname when a connection is made to an IRC server, you will be prompted to change to a different nickname. It is best to use the same nickname every time you chat so the other participants will recognize you more easily.
  11. From the IRC Server pop-up menu, select the IRC server and port combination you previously added from the information given by your facilitator.
  12. Click the Login button. After clicking the login button, a number of steps are performed and displayed as they occur. If an error is encountered, a message is displayed and you can try logging in again. If this fails, be sure that you are properly connected to the Internet and have properly entered the address of the IRC server in the Preferences.

Chatting in a Chat Room

Upon successful connection to the IRC server, the IRC Console window is displayed and the IRC server's welcome messages scroll by.

You are now ready to enter a chat room. A chat room is the same thing as a chat channel. Always check the chat schedule before starting ChatNet. You will find what topics are going to be discussed and what channel/room you will need to enter. The schedule is completed for your convenience giving you time before the chat to prepare for the discussion. There are two ways to enter a chat channel/room.

Click on the Enter button.

In the IRC Console window, click on the Enter button. Type in the channel/room number given by your instructor. Example: 1. Then in the Enter Channel box, click on the Enter button.

The Chat Room Window

After joining a channel, the channel window opens, you are now ready to chat with the other participants and facilitators.

Keep your IRC Console window on your screen even though you have entered a channel. This will make it easier to use the enter button to join a different channel later as needed.

The channel window is where all public conversation is performed. A channel window is made up of five parts: the buttons initiate commands, the topic and mode display the current channel settings, the body displays all message text, the message preview area is where your messages are typed, and the user list displays all current users in the channel.

Look at the window above. The channel name or number is on the top; notice that there is a # sign in front of the name. You do not need to put this in front of the number of the channel; ChatNet will do this for you. Underneath and next to the topic button is the topic name and mode. Under this is the conversation window; remember that this window keeps scrolling up and if you need to see an earlier message, you will need to scroll the window. If your facilitators are keeping a chat log, refer to it for a transcript of the entire conversation. Under this window is the message preview area, where you will type your messages.

To begin chatting, type a message in the small box (message preview area) at the bottom of the chat window. Press return or send when you want your message shown to other people in the chat channel.

If no one else is in the chat room, you can still test that your chat is working by "talking to yourself". The text you type into the message preview area at the bottom of the chat window will be displayed in the larger "conversation" window above, once you press enter or return. Then you know you are chatting successfully!

At the end of the chat session, simply go to the File, and choose Logoff or Quit.

Whispering in a Chat Room

There might be times during a chat/discussion when you want to send a message to just one person rather than the entire group. This is called whispering. If you are working with someone from another state or even from the same school, you might need to set up times to meet for a separate chat, to discuss a problem with the project, etc. This private chat is not meant to consume the entire chat time but might be used for a quick message sent to clarify something or make arrangements. The participants can arrange times to chat other than the scheduled course chats/discussions as needed. Sometimes your facilitator may arrange another time to chat with participants, for example, scheduled office hours.

To whisper to someone, first click on that person's nickname in the user list on the right column of your chat window. Then click on the Private button and a new private chat window will pop up for a conversation between just you and your selected user. You can still chat in your main chat window after the private chat window has popped up. Use the square in the upper left corner to quit the private chat window once you are done with it.

Switching to Another Chat Room on the Same Chat Server

The chat server has many different rooms/channels you can chat in. We will use this to have different small groups work together in different rooms. To switch and chat in a different chat room:

  1. Leave the current chat room. Use the square in the upper left corner to quit that chat window.
  2. Use the Enter button in the IRC Console window to enter a new chat room as you did when you started the chat software.

Using the Channel List

Another method of joining a chat channel is to use the Channel List. The channel list window displays all channel names, the number of current users in the channel, the channel topic, if set, and the number of channels loaded. Only those channels meeting the filter criteria are displayed. This window is useful when you are not sure what channel you need to enter or if you want to see what topics are under discussion in the different channels.

Highlight a channel name and click the Enter button to automatically join the channel. If no channel is highlighted, a window is displayed allowing the name of a channel to be typed. The channel window is then displayed and you are automatically entered as a user.

Topic Button

The Topic button allows the topic of a channel to be set.

When the topic is set, users in the channel see a message stating who changed the topic and the new topic name. The channel topic is displayed as users join a channel or a channel list is initiated. This option is useful for setting up participants with common problems, concerns, grade levels, and similar topics.


Chat Etiquette

If you have never used a real-time chat tool before, a good reference for proper netiquette when "chatting," is Chatiquette.

Common Chat Abbreviations:

Just for fun, here are some typing shortcuts from the ChatNet User's Appendix.

brb  be right back  ppl people
btw  by the way  gmta great minds think alike
afk  away from keys  ic
I see
lol
 laughing out loud  k
okay
rofl
 rolling on floor laughing  bbl
be back later
cya
 see ya  <eg>
evil grin
imho
 in my humble opinion    


Symbols (emoticons) used to show facial expressions:
 :) or 8)  smiley faces
 :( or 8(  frown
 :P  sticking out tongue
 :/  halfway between a smile and a frown
 :{)  person with a mustache smiling
 :*  a kiss


A person's name in brackets indicates you are hugging them; i.e. hugging Mary would be {{{{{{{{Mary}}}}}}}}. The more brackets you use, the bigger the hug.

Permission for printing the ChatNet User's Manual was given by:
 
ELS, Inc.
5200 NW 43rd Street, Suite 102-323
Gainesville, Florida 32606
Fax: (352) 375-5679 Info: (352) 375-0558 E-mail: elstech@elsinc.com