The days when students had to trek across campus to get professors’ help during “office hours” may be slipping away.

Harvard University computer science professor David Malan has launched “virtual office hours,” allowing students to chat via text or microphone in live, online help sessions.

The system, which was launched in the fall, improves efficiency for students and instructors alike, says Malan, who teaches more than 100 students.

“It’s especially convenient if they’re in their dorm, at Starbucks or on vacation. They can get help without physically making their way to the office,” he says. “And it allows instructors to pop in at 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. … It’s not feasible for us to be on campus at that time.”

Malan is one of a growing number of professors nationwide turning to Internet technology to enhance course communication and connect with students.

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