When the Backchannel Isn't in the Back Anymore

When the Backchannel Comes to the Front

At a February, 2013 class session of  MSLOC 430 Creating and Sharing Knowledge, three guest speakers convened for a panel discussion to explore challenges related to digital networked knowledge sharing.

Bill Chamberlin of IBM, Alison Seaman of ETMOOC and Jason Seiden of Ajax Workforce Marketing brought diverse perspectives to the topic and a great deal of enthusiasm for exploring it with the 22 students in the course. You can see the conversation below, as captured via Twitter by MSLOC 430 students, the panelists and one student (not in the class) who happened to be following the course's Twitter hashtag.

The event demonstrated an interesting integration of technologies and provides a glimpse of how a traditional classroom setting can be a bit more open. The Baldwin Learning Studio in Annenberg Hall allows us to set up events that include virtual participants — in this case Alison, who lives in Canada — in a fashion that makes all the participants easily forget that a guest speaker is joining virtually. Alison's video image was projected on a large video wall using a web meeting technology. Jason and Bill sat at a table in the classroom, adjacent to Alison's image. The audio setup in the room includes ceiling-mounted microphones and speakers, making it easy to have a large group discussion that includes both virtual and local participants.

During this particular discussion, everyone was also on Twitter. Jason and Bill sat next to each other, devices open, and tweeted when not answering questions or speaking. Alison did the same from her location. Students in the class also live tweeted the event. The backchannel -- that Twitter-based background discussion -- became much more integrated into the flow of the entire conversation.


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