It was amazing – at 5:00 pm Eastern Time I brought up the chat feature on the Digiteen Ning (FYI – chat is private for members only) before 5:01 pm – I had two students from Iowa and a couple from Korea in the chat. Within six minutes we had 8 students in the chat! I just went back in to write this post and had this conversation:
The first mistake was one of using IM speak. I talked about how we don't use IM speak because it leaves out those who have English as a second language and we embarked on a great discussion about just that point.
The students were amazing and very up front about the conversation and having live chat on the Ning. They were just “there.”
This is what floors me – this generation is SO eager to connect. They want it and in some ways need it. Live chat pulls them in like a magnet. So, we have 900 something kids on the project but to immediately have 7-8 kids pulled into a technology that quickly makes me think.
When we put in new technologies how often are the kids “sucked in.” What do they think? Well, they told me and I have permission to let you know what they think.
You know when a big ship goes down, survivors try to swim away so they aren't pulled into the undertow. But perhaps there are certain technologies that have this same undertow – that by their very presence kids are inhaled into a learning experience. What are those technologies? Have we mastered how to use them?
Backchannels have potential
I think I'm still just learning how to master the backchannel but I think that backchannels and live chats are important. The thing that scares most people away is the sandbox experience. The first time a kid comes into a live chat with kids around the world they are almost giddy and want to talk about seemingly frivolous things! They get a little silly. And yet with time, I see them evolve to useful tools of collaboration.
These are very useful tools and yet, are we afraid of what live chats can do? Still thinking on this one, but I sure do like technologies that draw students with their magnetic embrace.
Chat may be a lot of things but it is magnetic to students. It just is.
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