In today's information age, students use a wide variety of instant messaging tools to communicate online (AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, GTALK, etc.) One way instructors can harness these tools collectively into one location on the web is through the Meebo website. Through meebo, one does not need to download any software to use the instant message tools. It is done all online. Their website states, "meebo.com is a website for instant messaging from absolutely anywhere. Whether you’re at home, on campus, at work, or traveling foreign lands, hop over to meebo.com on any computer to access all of your buddies (on AIM, Yahoo!, MSN, Google Talk, ICQ and Jabber) and chat with them, no downloads or installs required, for free!
Another cool thing about Meebo is that anyone that has a meebo account can include the chat tool on any personal html web page by simply inserting some code. You can see how I did this for my blog by locating it on the right hand side of this page. One can also include the tool in any LMS such as Blackboard and WebCT, Moodle, Sakai, etc.