Thursday, 11 June 2009

Tap into the Backchannel in Your Presentation

Recently, I've been doing quite a few interviews within Second Life as part of the Coffee With series, and one of the things that I've found most fascinating (apart from the insights of my guests of course) is the amount of text activity going on in the 'backchannel' while the interview is going on.

Each time I ask the guest a questions, I see a stream of text chat appearing as almost everyone in the room adds their own comments and answers to the question I addressed to the guest. When this first started happening I found it incredibly distracting and a bit rude, but pretty soon realised that it was one of the most interesting aspects of this kind of event in Second Life and that there was some really valuable information being circulated behind and in response to what was happening in the interview and it wasn't being captured.
This is rather a long introduction into why I find Today's Meet so interesting. Today's Meet is a very simple way to set up an instant text chat room. That isn't particularly anything new, but what is good is that they are promoting for use during classes, lectures, presentations etc, to capture the 'backchannel'.
The idea is this:
  • You set up your instant chat room (just type in a name to create the URL)
  • Share the URL with the people in your class, lecture, presentation etc.
  • They log in and can chat and communicate with each other, share ideas, references, ask for clarification during the session.
  • You can either respond to the text during your session or review it at the end and clarify, confirm, refute, augment.
This makes the process of teaching/learning much more communal, collaborative, inclusive and hopefully engaging.
  • Of course this is a tool for those who are mobile connected, but still a good idea for those working in that context.
  • You will also have to get used to people tapping away during your session, but especially for those working with really large groups where addressing everyone questions and comments can be difficult I think this means of providing a 'backchannel' to enable peer support can be really useful.

I hope you find it useful too.

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Nik Peachey

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