There are several ways to create a virtual office. Our GCC Google Apps program has a chat built right in. Canvas has a “conference”. I like to use a tool called Zoho Chat.
A Zoho chat box can be placed in any of your courses to conduct virtual office hours for land and online courses simultaneously! You can turn the chat box on while grading or creating a syllabus. Students now have the option of contacting you via Zoho Chat from wherever they are studying and you can answer from wherever you are working. Since you don’t need to be logged into Canvas or your LMS to use Zoho Chat, you can even conduct virtual office hours while hiking Thunderbird Mountain using the Zoho mobile app if you wanted to! I’ll settle for Sunday night virtual office hours when students are online trying to get assignments completed before the midnight deadline.
Zoho chat is free. It doesn’t require students to sign up for an account. They simply type their name in the “enter name here” bar in the chat box and click on “chat”.
Here are the 4 steps you need to create a virtual office using Zoho chat and a video to help you along.
1. Sign up for an account at Zoho: https://chat.zoho.com. You can sign in with your Google or Facebook account too.
2. Once logged in, click on the “Live Chat” link on the right. A chat box will appear in your dashboard for you to edit. Add your name, a title and change the colors if desired.
3. Click on “Generate Code for Embed Chat”. Copy the code. Paste the code where you want your chat box. You could select the Home Page in Canvas or use the Re-Direct Tool and create a link in Canvas’s Navigation area. The same embed code can be used for multiple classes.
4. During “office hours”, log into your Zoho account. When students want to chat, a chime will ring and a chat box will appear in your Zoho dashboard. You can keep a copy of the chat by selecting “Chat History” on the upper right side of your dashboard.