SXSW: Blackboards or Backchannels: The Techno-Induced Classroom of Tomorrow

Blackboard to Backchannel panel

Diana Kimball, Alex Leavitt, Kabren Levinson, Archana Ramachandran, Kelly Sutton. All students. They talked about social networks in education.

All are working on something as students that relates to technology in education.

Ramachandran. It is possible to reach masses of people through systems available now. It can connect both faculty and students. Not all people use every technology, which is a drawback. If the idea for the techology comes from peers rather than faculty, students may be more open to it. She sees it more for social use rather than classroom purposes.

Sutton is playing devil’s advocate for low tech. keg parties and no need for social technology to participate in class or meet people.

Levinson. An open laptop in class is a huge wall. An obstruction to the talk. Maybe Sutton’s not the only Luddite. He sees the best use of technology in the classroom outside the classroom in off hours. Creating a class blog to use outside the classroom. Comment on other peoples work outside of class. Relationships start in real life but are carried beyond that.

They then took a question from Twitter! (this cracked me up!) Having a conversation about personal coversations based on something from Twitter.

Kimball. The Internet accelerates serendipity. The more people thinking about the same thing at the same time, serendipity happens. She runs a question tool for the class where she’s TA. It’s the backchannel for the class. She said it gets very lively and that she learns a lot from being in the backchannel. The backchannel chatter shows that people are intentionally engaged. People in the class don’t use the backchannel at all. It’s almost like two classes going on at the same time. Can have one professor and a bunch of mediators to help aggregate information and questions. There’s no absence, only presence when only the active people are visible. You may see that other people are participating passively, but they aren’t visibly passive or pulling down the class atmosphere.

Kimball. Does the Internet make the unimportant things easier so that the important things can be productively difficult?

Sutton. LMU bought 60 laptops for K-12. Says no one knows how to use them. Is he talking about students using them? Ramachandran says kids don’t have the maturity to use techology like laptops with good results.

Kimball. Think of it as murder mystery and look at everyone’s motives. Kids want to convince teachers that they need laptops, but teachers don’t understand that need or maybe are techno-phobic. Will kids get the idea that teachers don’t understand anything? Leavitt. Students with resources teachers don’t have use it against teachers.

Woman to watch in tech: Diana Kimball. She’s bright, articulate, knowledgeable. I predict a bright, shiny future for this young woman. Not that the rest of the students on this panel aren’t bright, but she really makes sense.

Kimball. Use tools you like just because you like them. (kick ass, eh Kathy Sierra?) Then students can learn a lot from each other. Levinson touts outside of class projects again. Ramachandran. Future students will learn more on their own and the teacher needs to be more of a mentor than a conveyor of information.


Leave a Reply