Blog Post

Online office hours

Hello again! It's very exciting to back for another round of HASTAC!

I'm experimenting once again this fall with online office hours.  Has anyone had any luck with online office hours in the past? When I used them before, the students seemed as receptive to the virtual meetings as in-person office hours (read = didn't really participate f2f or online).  If you have any techniques or suggestions, I'd be grateful.

What platforms have you used? I'm using Google Chat, our University's e-mail chat, and Blackboard's "office hours" function.


Kim Lacey



I'm trying to do something similar too; this post at ProfHacker was at least part of the inspiration.

In the comments, Julie Meloni mentions that she just invites students to chat with her (via an instant messaging service) if they see her online and her status says she is available. I've given my students a number of ways to contact me (chat, Skype) and encouraged them to get in touch via those means. I've kept my traditional office hours, though, so I feel no special compunction to respond to a Skype call, for instance, if it is at an inconvenient time. My hope is to simply increase student engagement by greasing the wheels of discussion a little outside of class

While the semester's early yet, so far I've not had anyone take me up on the offer. Perhaps by making it so informal I've not really encouraged students.

I'd love to hear how yours turn out though.


I have had a lot of success with online office hours, especially when I remind students in class about them a few times. I found they usually have a lot of question the day or two before a paper is due. Often, it's just a quick question, but they found it very helpful for me to be available for those sorts of things. I've used AIM mostly, since I didn't already have an account on that network. Skype is a great idea, though. I might try that next time. When I tried online office hours on a weekly basis, students contacted me far less than when I scheduled them only before papers were due.


I might give Skype a try, too.  Thanks for the input!