Instant Messaging: Expanding Your Office Hours


  • Daniel Burkey Northeastern University
  • Ronald J. Willey Northeastern University


Over the past 10 years we have witnessed amazing changes in communication, specifically the rise of the Internet into everyday communications. All professors, new and old, know about e-mail. Many know how to access journal articles via electronic means. Faculty over 35 years old, however, may not know about instant messaging (IM). On the other hand, anyone under the age of 25 may not know of any other means of communication (such as how to write a letter and send it via the postal service). We offer below our experiences gained using IM as a means to “keep in touch with students” and expand our availability. 

Author Biographies

Daniel Burkey, Northeastern University

Daniel Burkey is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Northeastern University He received his B.S. from Lehigh University in 1998 and his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003. His current teaching interests include undergraduate thermodynamics, integrating technology in the classroom, and increasing student-instructor interaction in novel ways. His research interests are centered on the use of chemical vapor deposition as a novel means of polymer synthesis for a variety of applications.

Ronald J. Willey, Northeastern University

Ronald J. Willey joined the faculty of Northeastern University in 1983. He serves on the Board of Registration for Engineers and Land Surveyors for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. His research interests include the integration of process safety into the curriculum, and aerogels.