Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Presenting with a "backchannel"

I can't remember where I first learned about the "backchannel." Here is a GREAT explanation from Wikipedia:

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.

This morning on Twitter, Joyce Valenza provided a link to this article: "How to Present while People are Twittering" http://ow.ly/rxt It provides a nice overview as to why a presenter should embrace the backchannel rather than avoid it. For example, a presenter can use it to solicit questions from the group and often times members of the audience can answer questions for the presenter without having to interrupt the presenter.

Since I'll be presenting at the MACUL conference in March, I thought I might try implementing a backchannel during my presentation. But how???? Should the audience use Twitter and direct their questions @mytwitterusername?? What's the easiest way for both me and my audience?

I posed that question to my Twitter network and within minutes received this response from Ira Socol:

And Today'sMeet is the perfect solution! Participants don't need to create an account or even log in. They just go to my custom URL, type in their desired username and begin typing. It turns out that Ira's son, James Socol, created Today'sMeet.

I learn so much every day from my PLN. I hope every teacher will discover the power of social networking.

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