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Educational Uses of Back Channels

A back channel is a secondary conversation stream that occurs simultaneously with a primary conversation. If you attend a conference, back channel conversations may be happening on Skype, Twitter, BackNoise, Today’s Meet, or similar services. Back channels during live events in Elluminate can be more valuable for participants than the actual presentation. Some attendees (especially in Elluminate) find the side conversations distracting, at first, but most people warm to them after a period of time. Continuous partial attention is alive and well!
What makes a back channel successful? According to Museum 2.0, a low barrier system (such as Today’s Meet) has greater participation than a registration service like Twitter. People who are already on Twitter will gravitate toward each other through conference tags. People who are not yet using back channel tools find low barrier tools more appealing. I’d be interested in seeing an analysis of the quality of conversations and information sharing (especially after relationships/connections have been established) in both open access spaces and those that require registration.

One Comment

  1. I’m starting work on my master’s thesis which will explore how social media might be used to develop and use conversation as a learning tool in K-12. I plan to blog my work as I go: the proposal should be up in a few days–your thought would be welcome.

    Friday, March 6, 2009 at 8:54 am | Permalink

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  1. The Value of the Back Channel | eLearning eVolution on Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    [...] like George Siemens agrees in today’s posting, “Educational Uses of Back Channels.” He says that the back channels during live online events may be even more valuable than the actual [...]

  2. [...] to develop significantl in the coming year. A few of us made a fledgling attempt at having a back channel in operation using twitter and the hashtag #DPconf09.  Denise Lofts, Rob Lyttle, Pip Howell, Stu [...]