The purpose of a back channel NECC09

I’m about an hour away from heading back to Spokane (and yes back to farming) from Washington DC and the NECC conference and just had a great back channel chat session where like many conversations ideas start to come and before I know it….I have to think through a couple things. In the back channel we got into a conversation about back channels. What are their purpose and how do you use them? What I’ve seen is a transformation of what a back channel is and what it has become and what it can be. So here’s my take on back channels and their different uses: BackChannel: Here’s Wikipedia’s take on what a back channel is: Backchannel is the practice of using networked computers to maintain a real-time online conversation alongside live spoken remarks. The term was coined in the field of Linguistics to describe listeners’ behaviours during verbal communication, Victor Yngve 1970. The term “backchannel” generally refers to online conversation about the topic or the speaker. Occasionally backchannel provides audience members a chance to fact-check the presentation. First growing in popularity at technology conferences, backchannel is increasingly a factor in education where WiFi connections and laptop computers allow students to use ordinary chat like IRC or AIM to actively communicate during class. So a back channel allows your students and audience to communicate “behind the scene”. It’s used to connect people and ideas around something being presented/taught. This is a true back channel. It’s behind the channel of communication that is the presentation. Front Channel: I threw this term out in a back channel chat I was in. A “Front Channel” (for lack of a better term at the moment) is using a chat as part of your lesson or presentation. It’s part of your lesson. You use it to field questions, it’s on the screen in front of the room and the participants/students are aware that what they write can/will become part of the lesson or presentation. Feedback Channel: Scott Smeech threw this out as we were talking though this at the Blogger’s Cafe. The idea that you use a chat with participants as a way to gather feedback about your lesson or presentation. What I’m trying to do is break down the different ways to use a live chat in the classroom or presentation. Up until now we have called all of these “back channels” but...

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NECC is about conversations

As Day 2 of the conference gets started I’m sitting here in the Blogger’s Cafe reflecting on Day 1. As usual I spent most of my time at the Blogger’s Cafe chatting with new and old friends alike. I did go to one session yesterday. Scott McLeod’s session on disruptive innovations. Now I went to the session to support Scott and to hear what he had to say, but really I could have found the content he was presenting on the web at his K12online presentation. We talk about how content is out there, how if you want to, you can find the content. So why do we come to this conference? If the content that is presented here is accessible anywhere anytime what’s the reason we’re here? What’s the reason we come together face to face? I’ve talked about this before on the blog and I keep coming back to this idea that when we gather at a conference like this, or in a classroom, that the conversation, the relationships, are what we are looking for. One of the reasons educators give for virtual schools being bad is that students will loose that social connection….I’ve never heard a teacher say, “But they’ll lose the content”. Yet, we build conferences around content not connections…about hour long sessions and not about the socialization of being together……and we’re suppose to be the most connected of the educators out there. We are suppose to be the ones who “get it” and yet we see conferences as content not as human connections. There is a reason we come together face to face. We are social animals we want the social connections. That’s why I spend most of my time hanging out in the Blogger’s Cafe. That’s were the social connections are made, the conversations that I have here cannot happen on the web…they are organic, they are real, they are friends new and old. It’s getting the opportunity to meet Leo and Sachi LeFever from CommonCraft. Or the Co-founders of VoiceThread. It’s these connections that bring us together. Does the same apply to our classrooms? Should our classrooms be planned around conversations rather than around content? How do we make this change? Technorati Tags: NECC09, NECC, NECC2009,...

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EdubloggerCon 2009 Reflections

Last year I was pretty critical of EduBloggerCon. For me it was too big, too scripted, and…well…you can read the post. This year….smaller, deeper, and more thoughtful. Exactly what I was hoping for and personally what I need to push my own thinking. It was one of those days where you went to one but watch others via Twitter. You wanted to go to all the sessions…and in some ways you did via the conversations that happened between the actual sessions. Last year I said it was too big…around 250 people. This year around 75 people….not a bad size. Last year it was to scripted….this year it was flexible, adaptable, and conversation based. Not adaptable enough for my taste but that was due more to the people that went than the organization of the sessions. With empty sessions all over the wiki, nobody should complain that the conversation wasn’t what they needed. If you wanted a conversation the spots were available to put up a topic. I did just that wanting to discuss the changes that are happening with blogging because of Twitter and this whole “live stream” service (more on that later). So….here are my take aways from EduBloggerCon 2009 Best Practice of PD (My live notes)A great session that had a group of about 30 break into smaller groups, discuss ideas on what worked at our schools and then came back together to share as a group. We came to the same conclusions that it seems we always end up at: Getting administrators on board is key You have to meet teacher where they are There are different approaches, no one right model/way to shift teachers Change is hard Change is frustrating Build Your Own Tool (My notes)A great session that allowed us all to dream about the tool we would create if we had a coder. That’s exactly what Mark Wagner wanted out of the session and has had success with when he rents a coder to create applications for him. Where School Reform Meets Madonna:This session was too deep for me to even take notes on….I was too busy thinking about the conversation that was going on. It was a great intense hour with one liners that filled twitter faster than any single one person could type. My take away….or just good reminder…came from Scott McLeod when he reminded me that kids that are 14,15,16...

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5 Tips to a successful NECC

NECC is just a few days away which means the chatter is getting louder. I always love listening and reading first timers to NECC. It will be my fourth NECC and I’m looking forward to the conversations…always the best part! As it gets closer I’m starting to set up my computer to best follow the conversation and thought I’d share my 5 Tips to a successful NECC. 1. GET INVOLVED!This is the key to a great conference. People are so friendly and don’t feel like you need to be invited into a conversation. If you over hear someone talking, explaining something, or chatting about an issue that interests you…get involved! Introduce yourself and take part in the discussion. Conferences are about meeting people, putting twitter names and faces together, and geeking out! Don’t be afraid to ask for help, ask a question, or start a discussion. The Blogger’s Cafe and other cafe areas are great places to just hang out and be with other educators. 2. Get Twittered!If you have been waiting to “get twitter” this could be the time and place for you to get it. Twitter will be the communication tool of choice for many and it will be a great way to keep up with the conference. The problem will be following the conference via Twitter as I have a feeling the conversations are going to be fast and furious. The best thing I can recommend is to get a twitter desktop application that allows you to set up and follow search terms in twitter. I use Seesmic Desktop but would also recommend Tweetdeck. Both will allow you to search for a term and then add a “deck” that will auto update and tweets with those words or terms in it. I suggest setting up two search terms. #NECC09 which is the tag for the conference and NECC for those who just mention the conference. By using a desktop application it wil auto update and you won’t have to spend your time staring at and refreshing a web page. If you find the information via Twitter to fast or not what you want you can refine your search by adding other words. For example do a search for #NECC09 and 1:1 if you only want updates from NECC about 1:1 computing. You can customize your stream of information anyway you want it. Remember Twitter is a...

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