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I tuned into the Twitter stream from Sunday's opening keynote at ISTE 2010 with interest. The speaker was former World Bank Fran�ois Rischard, whose talk addressed the myriad of global challenges that education must face and must address. That's a heavy weight for teachers to shoulder, and not necessarily an upbeat rallying cry to launch the ISTE conference. But by the sounds of it, Rischard's talk was made awfully unwieldy, according to the tweets I saw, not just by the content, but by its form -- a presentation that failed to meet the expectations of an audience that has pretty high standards, admittedly, on how to lead a group of people through an argument. It was funny to read tweets blasting ye old Powerpoint presentation, decrying slides that were too text-laden.

The backchannel was lively, to say the least. (And from what I could gather from several thousand miles away, the front channel was as well, with numerous attendees walking out of the keynote.)

All this raises a number of interesting questions, I think, particularly for teachers, who spend their time in front of a class managing that front channel, and if they're embraing Web 2.0 tools, trying to find clever ways to utilize the back channel in the classroom as well.

Resources/Links:

Scott McLeod, "ISTE 2010 - Some early takes on the opening keynote (and on conference attendees' behavior)": Scott McLeod tracks some of the comments on Twitter and captured onsite at the ISTE conference in response to Rischard's keynote. One of the most important questions a commenter asks: "Are we modeling good digital citizenship?"

danah boyd, "spectacle at Web2.0 Expo� from my perspective": This post examines boyd's experiences presenting at Web2.0 when what boyd admits was an awkward presentation turns horrific thanks to the broadcasting writ large of the audience real-time responses. Boyd explores how these communication tools might not work well with presentations that are meant to be particularly heady as the audience is likely to pay attention to the screen (and others' thoughts) rather than listen fully and deeply to the presentation itself.

Beth Nowviskie, "Uninvited Guests": This post examines how Twitter can enrich and disrupt "closed" conversations. She writes, "I suspect conference followers and participants on Twitter � whose presence Margaret Atwood likens to having fairies at the bottom of your garden � have no idea how magically disruptive they are. If they sense it, they may still be surprised at the character of that disruption. Several times now, I have heard the technology the Twitter community embraces and explicitly figures as democratizing and personalizing described in terms of alienation, invasion, and exclusion. These face-to-face conversations about Twitter are so fraught that delicacy cannot accord with 140-character limitations, and therefore they do not make it into the online record. Sometimes, indeed, they only come in a private, kindly-meant word over drinks or in shared taxi-cabs after the Twittering has ceased. Other times it gets heated and publicly awkward."

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Audrey Watters


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