where’s the back channel?

17 Aug

our district does an annual job-alike day where teachers with similar functions meet for a day of learning. my position with professional development is a bit of an unconventional one. my primary function is with the gt team, one of my masters degrees is in gifted education and most of my years in the classroom have been with gifted programming. ed tech is an areas that i’ve always found a way to incorporate in to my classroom and now my pd sessions. luckily, i’ve found myself collaborating with the tech folks in pd as well. during techspan today (the job alike day for campus technologists) i was asked to present a one hour session which was a blast, my session looked at web tools that can be used to differentiate. i enjoy sharing resources and the conversation was great. about two weeks ago, there was some shuffling of responsibilities and a friend of mine had found himself putting techspan together. as a favor to him, after a bit of lobbying on his part, i agreed to be the keynote speaker. i don’t think of myself as a keynote type of person, i’m no good as talking at a large group of people for extended periods of time, but he felt that some work we did was worth sharing so i agreed. long story short (broken screen > had to project on back wall > iffy mic stand > odd lighting > etc) it was fine and while i can’t say i enjoyed it, i’m glad for the experience. my friends were very supportive and both they and the participants had kind things to say afterwards. after this lengthy set up, it may seem odd to hear that this is NOT what i wanted to talk about. there was an incident with someone after my talk, but i’m going to need to wait a bit before unpacking that one.
i’m concerned at something that DIDN’T happen today. prior to the event i spoke to my friend about advertising a hash tag that we could use as a back channel on twitter. my belief was that if we had campus technologists gathered from around the entire district, there would be loads of people who would work the twitter feed. not so much. when i left for lunch there was a grand total of 6 people who had used the hash tag to tweet. 3 pd folks, 2 participants, and someone who noticed my hash tag that follows me from elsewhere. not what i would call a resounding success. how is this possible? how can technologists not understand that power of the back channel? i know for a fact that several had gone to ISTE and experienced how great a back channel can be. i was disappointed. to champion the effective use of educational technology to campus technologists would seem like preaching the to choir, however i consider twitter and the use of back channels a significant part of professional conversation and it saddens me to see it ignored. perhaps the channel got used later in the day, but i haven’t had the heart to check it out again. i simply don’t see the battle going well if we are going lobby for effective use of educational technology in the classroom if we aren’t willing to effectively use our own learning tools as well.

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Posted by on August 17, 2010 in venturing out of the cube


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