Over twenty years ago, when I first started working with teachers, one of the promises of the use of technology was to level the playing field in the classroom. No longer would those individuals, who are able to think quickly on their feet with loud voices and determination, be able to dominate the learning in the classroom. The use of forums and email would allow the quieter thinker, the one who may need more time to wrestle and reflect for some time, the ability to develop their voice. The net result is that everyone would benefit from the the differing learning styles.
Fast forward to last night. Like many days, I participated in many different networks throughout the day which encourage quick and limited participation via a chat window. Yesterday, I “tweeted”, participated in a Google Presentation chat room, the Elluminate chat room for the K12 Online Conference Pre-Conference speaker David Warlick, the chatroom at EdTechTalk while listening to the Women of Web 2.0 (WOW2) webcast, and finally at the Practical Theory uStream chat room. In each case, I was mult-tasking, trying to listen to the content, trying to share ideas with other participants with the goal of becoming more active within these media, rather than simply being passive and reflective while listening to the presentations. Some of the backchannel conversation were flying by at a furious rate, especially during the Fireside and WOW2 events.
I began to wonder about whether the sharing and advancements of ideas are stiffled due to the rapid growth of back-channeling . Even though I am getting better at communicating via quick chat with its rapid style delivery, I am someone who needs to step back, take some time to reflect and ponder questions, letting ideas grow before I am willing to commit to sharing them. Backchannel conversations plays to my personal weaknesses rather than my strengths.
So I began to wonder, does the rapid growth of backchannel conversation mean that the pendulum is swinging back, favoring those who are quick on their feet and can formulate an ideas and deliver them with an authoritative voice? Are those thinkers who are more reflective being pushed aside?
Or does this simply mean that we need to make sure that we encourage both types of thinkers in developing their voices using both methods of communication. We also need to make sure that we vary the inputs that we use to formulate ideas, mixing both the instant gratification that comes from chatting with the reflective practice best presented by blogging.
Chris Lehmann, last night tweeted, ” Part of me loves that I’ve got to pay attention to my family and therefore miss a ton of this stuff. Keeps me from overload.” I think that Chris has this right, not only do you miss a ton of stuff, but it gives you time to reflect and formulate ideas.