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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