Once Google Chat is installed on your desktop, you can leave the application open and get notifications any time a message comes in. This is not only great for communicating with students, but also with coworkers.
When you open Google Chat on your desktop, this is what you will see:
Like many Google products, the application has many settings, but is also intuitive. Simply click on a name to continue messaging that person, or click on the plus sign to start a new chat.
When you click to start a new chat, you will see these options:
You can also click on the name of the person who you're chatting with to see more options: