Back channeling: How I am attending #ulearn11 in my PJs

Conference attendance is a mere tweet away

For a variety of reasons it wasn’t feasible for me to attend #ulearn11. Fortunately hundreds of wannabe and bonafide edugeeks are on hand to help facilitate my learning. So from the comfort of my lounge I ambled into the #ulearn11 conversations. And what a feast of information there was out there.

Alongside the twitter stream which had brief lulls due to network problems there were Google docs of major keynotes from Jack Bacon, Graeme AitkenDr Jan Herrington as well as conference breakouts from @MrKempnzCheryl Doig and  I really loved @mrwoodnz google apps site.

Was it the same as being there?


I don’t get to partake in the offline conversations, the fun, the frivolity and the buzz that comes from attending big conferences but I still got some quick learning bites and had a few twitter conversations along the way.

However this might not always be the case .

InternetNZ tweeted that the online attendance for their #net11 debate was 20 times the physical audience. With ulearn11 I was definitely in the minority of virtual attendees but will there be a tipping point when more of us will be at home in our PJs browsing our twitter feeds for conference tidbits?

Our conferences no longer have walls but what about our classrooms?

Because the potential for this type of back channeling in education is huge. Even one of the Perth-based members of my Personal Learning Community tweeted that he was enjoyed the links being generated from #ulearn11. What I think is the true power of back channeling is a true democratisation of conferences. It means anybody, from the important person giving the keynote address through to the student teacher sitting in her PJs in Auckland, are contributing to the conference.

Which begs the question how do we facilitate this style of learning into our classrooms?
I know a lot has been made of the idea that mobile learning means that students can access information anywhere at any time. But something we often overlook is that students can also create information anywhere at any time.
Why can’t we start the process by encouraging back channeling what goes on in our classroom?
I can imagine beads of sweat forming on a lot of teachers forehead at the thought “This class sucks” being tweeted from their classrooms or worse “RT: This class sucks.” Even Europe, Asia, and America have the potential to get real-time updates about what goes down in your classroom and it might not all be good. But the thing about true classroom without walls is that students aren’t just knowledge consumers they are knowledge creators.
Right now the platforms like facebook and twitter, the platforms most of us use to interact with the world, are banned in a lot of schools. However if we are going to let the world into our classrooms then we need to scaffold ways to let our students voices be heard by the world.

7 thoughts on “Back channeling: How I am attending #ulearn11 in my PJs

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  1. Greatly enjoyed reading this – I too am following ulearn11 via twitter from home, currently also in PJs! As you say, it is not the same as being there, but it is still possible to glean some great ideas, apps, links, etc.


  2. hey stephanie, i’ve linked here from twitter, from #ulearn conf chat. have actually walked out of my last breakout cos it’s a bit yawny in comparison with DK’s social media session this morn. plus my brain has melted. happy pj daze – might meet ya at ulearn next year – katie in tauranga x x


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