The Learning Beyond the Meeting…
I had the pleasure of the spending today at a Ministy of Education session on “System Improvement and Monitoring” as part of my role supporting school improvement. This was the first day of a two day meeting and I was joined by 14 colleagues from a variety of roles in our system.
At the beginning of the day we were given the address of the “Today’s Meet” backchannel for the session. I have used this service many times and at many events, and it serves a purpose as the visual conscious of the participants.
In our own recent PD sessions, we have moved away from the Today’s Meet/Wallwisher-type backchannels in favour of Twitter hash tags (which we have then been saving using Storify). We provide iPads at the table and encourage and support participants signing up and contributing through the day, all the while using services like “Visible Tweets” to present the postings.
During the session today, there was no Twitter hashtag provided. No big deal, thought I, as I made my first post or two to the backchannel. What soon became clear to me, however, was what a missed opportunity this was. By using Today’s Meet, the learning and conversation was limited to those in the room. It took away the ease at which Twitter hashtags as backchannels allow me to connect my professional learning from the day to my own personal learning network. It hindered my ability to engage those beyond the room in the conversation (which at these types of sessions always tends to be deep and powerful). Today’s Meet allows me to post my contributions to my own Twitter feed, but does not show the full conversation to those intrigued enough to read. Even though the backchannel was not closed to outsiders, it is another place to go. One of the strengths of Twitter is the ability to track multiple conversations and events in a single service or window.
Next time you are thinking of using a backchannel in the classroom or at a professional development session, think about who you are trying to engage with this activity. If you want the conversation to link to participants own learning communities, or if you want to illicit responses from the world beyond your classroom or PD session, consider creating a Twitter hashtag.