The chat tool is synchronous. It allows to you to have an instant chat with students online on a set date and time. This can be a great way to communicate with students whilst at your desk and the chat sessions can involve as many students as you want. There is the option to save past chat sessions so you can review any important points/questions that were asked.
Messages in the chat tool are instant, and the conversation happens live. This is unlike the message functionality which is more like an internal Solent Online Learning email service (although it is not connected to the University's email service). Messages can be sent at any time, and are an automatic feature.