Backchannel Backlash

For the life of me I can’t remember who I overheard say it or where. It was sometime before NECC. But the statement was, “at this point presentations are for the presenter and the backchannel is for the attendees”. THIS WAS SO NOT THE CASE AT BLC08.

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Most of us came prepared for the backchannel. I know when I arrived at Liz Davis’s house Sunday evening, the first thing I did was make sure I could connect to her wireless network. Her husband just laughed. He knew Liz and I would be lost in the technology for the rest of the evening. Come on – admit it. The desk in your hotel room looked similar Dave Truss‘s. There’s no shame in admitting that you came to BLC08 prepared to document, record and participate in as much as possible to build your learning community.

The caliber of sessions I attended was outstanding. I missed two because Liz and I presented twice. (You can view our session wiki at

So back to the backchannel. Most of the sessions that I attended were UStreamed. Bob Sprankle even recorded podcasts of several for his subscribers. There were dozens of sessions that I wasn’t able to get to since they have not yet been able to perfect the science of cloning. So, UStream and podcasting extended my conference experience by allowing me to attend additional sessions.

One of the sessions that I set up the Stream for had 30 people in the chat room. Now I have no way of knowing if all 30 were from outside of the Newton Marriott, but when I asked the facilitator, Darren Kuropatwa, if I could relay some questions from the chat, we were able to include BLC08 virtual attendees Lisa Durff, CathyJo Nelson and Bud Hunt in the conversation. Had I not been following the backchannel, Darren would not have known until much later that some of his viewers had questions.

Speaking of just-in-time teaching and learning…

Where’s the learning with the backchannel?

Is it a distraction? Maybe sometimes.

It is what you make of it. I feel it’s part of our collective intelligence. It allows for the opportunity to offer a different point of view than what you might be thinking of had you been viewing the presentation in silence or isolation.

The backchannel affords us the chance to discuss, in real time, the topic at hand, rather than going back later when the speaker is unavailable.

Karen Janowski set up a Ning for BLC08. They have a group that is getting together the links to the UStreams from the conference.

Listed below are the resources that I have put together so far. Some of them I have on my iTouch, some in my Diigo, some in my head.

BTW – If you can remember who made that comment about the backchannel – let me know, would ya – I’d like to talk to them about it.

Pre-Conference: Alan November Published Google Doc with links to everything thanks to Dave Truss

Keynote: Ewan McIntosh
Keynote: John Davitt

Everything Old is New Again with Darren Kuropatwa and Clarence Fischer

A Day in the Life of a Technology Teacher Presentation by Darren Kuropatwa

Joyce Valenza’s “Web 2.0 Meets Information Fluency: Designing Projects for 21st Century Learners”

Dave Truss
This, My Blog Has Taught Me
This is just one of three presentations that Dave did while at BLC08

Clarence Fischer at BLC

Reflection from the end of the conference:

Designing with Wikkis

My husband and I had grand plans to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary this past Friday night at a quiet, pricey, romantic restaurant. Our plans were squashed when my brother-in-law called early Friday morning to inform us he had the flu. Both grandmothers already had plans that night – and mysteriously the next night as well. I called the babysitter and left a message on her cell asking if she was available that night and waited all day for her to leave school grounds so she could turn on her phone and retrieve it. (Why can’t highschoolers check their voicemail during studyhall?)

It was a no go. She wasn’t available to watch them on Saturday night either.

Saturday morning I called the back-up sitter. She was unavailable as well. I even called the back-up to the back-up. She was unavailable too. I went out to run errands.

When I got home, my husband recommended that instead of staying home and he and I having to cook, that we change the reservations and take the kids out to a more family-friendly locale.

On to the reason why I’m blogging about this meal…
When we entered the restaurant (we were in the Atlantic Highlands in New Jersey, about to sit on the deck overlooking the Sandy Hook Bay) my two daughters, ages 4 1/2 and 6 were asked if they wanted to make some wikis.

MAKE SOME WIKIS? This fried seafood restaurant that was going to supply my girls with hotdogs and chicken strips had wi-fi? My kids don’t even get technology at school and my full-day kindergartener is right across from the computer lab all day long.

It turns out that there’s another kind of wiki I was not aware of. But my girls loved them. They used their Wikki Stix to make all sorts of creative creations: dogs, people, microphones, lolipops. They had a blast. They hardly ate. They requested more Wikkis (which fortunately for us the kind waiter didn’t even blink at) and while they collaborated with each other on how to use the tools they were given, my husband and I talked about our eleven years of marriage – and yes, wikis and blogs and all things ed tech.

Wikki Stix can be found at