Not too long ago AOL (remember them) came out with something they called OpenIM … it was essentially an API that allowed you to write desktop apps that could take advantage of the AIM system. It was nice and all, but the lionshare of apps that matter to me are web-based. Now I guess directly integrating IM into some sort of office suite would be nice, but at the end of the day I (and so many others) live in the browser.
Now AOL is opening the doors for developers to integrate AIM into web apps. In higher education, many students use AIM as a primary mode of communication — I am guessing it is right up there with writing on someone’s FaceBook Wall and texting on a phone. I can also tell you that from experience having students sign into AIM in class to pass files to me quickly can be quite a pain. If it works from within the learning spaces we can score another one for getting students interested in spending a little of their time in there.
I ran into all this over at GigaOm … their take is that this is how AOL keeps AIM relevent in the face of Jabber. While I agree that is where the future is, most students I deal with don’t know Jabber from AIM — they just know they use the AOL client. At any rate, as I am typing my mind is spinning with the ways AIM could be brought into custom web apps to support all sorts of things in learning designs. Has anyone started on any of this? Anyone have ideas? I bet my students would!