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 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.
Chat may be a lot of things but it is magnetic to students. It just is.