Sunday, July 24, 2011

Letter Re "Speaking Up in Class, Silently, Using Social Media," NY Times

I found the recent article in the Times about how twitter and other
forms of social media can act as a back channel in lectures and classroom
discussions quite interesting. As a teacher and lecturer, I have
experienced this back-channel use and feel that the experience is
positive. The article did not discuss what I consider two key positive
aspects of this back channel communication. First, the back channel
dialogue can be shown on a screen during the talk – i.e. as a “twitter
fall” behind the speaker. This allows the audience to collectively see
the dialogue real-time and engage in it in a more direct way than just
seeing it on their screens -- though often the discussion is a bit
more acerbic than what would people normally say face to face.
Secondly, back channel discussion can be archived,
providing a clear and permanent record of a debate. This is often
useful for "town-hall" style discussion where the intention is to
encourage everyone to get his or her point across but there's often not
enough time to hear everyone out verbally.

Unpublished letter in response to:
Speaking Up in Class, Silently, Using Social Media
Published: May 12, 2011