Thursday, February 14, 2008

Buncha Chatty Kathies

…but especially Katie.

I agree with Donna that synchronous chat – especially between as many people as were on it today, can be overwhelming and exhausting and frustrating. But I had a blast – it was playful, and if it wasn’t directly productive (in terms of accomplishing the goals Chelsey and Jim were trying to accomplish), it certainly showed us how difficult it is to pull off. Here are some of the other things I found interesting.

Poor Chelsey. You tried to rein us in, but you pretty much failed miserably. I could sense your frustration, and I could easily imagine feeling that way if I was the one in charge. But our collective rejection of your authority perfectly illustrated Faigley’s point about authority tending to disappear (or at least get challenged) when the teacher’s not at the front of the room maintaining a physical authoritative presence. In a chat space, the teacher is just another name in the room.

My conclusion about this is not that I would avoid using chat as a teaching tool; instead, I’d use very small groups, and give them goals ahead of time, and let them work on their own without me. Maybe outside of class time. As for the goals, they could do whatever they wanted to get to them. At the end, they'd turn in the chat record but also some kind of reflective piece (blog? memo?) on how they accomplished their goals. They'd have to make meaning out of the chaos.

But the chaos itself was interesting… and worth writing about too. I found it interesting how fast I had to read (and in two directions – up and down) and write. Every time I jumped in to write something, the conversation moved on without me, and many times my post was outdated by the time I posted it. It was an incredibly fast conversation, and at times, it was actually 2 or 3 conversations. It was fun to see how we adapted to the speed: some of us “yelled” in caps, some of us started addressing whom we were responding to in our posts, some of us sat back and waited a while between posts. All of us wrote smaller messages at the end than at the beginning. I see advantages and disadvantages to the speed thing w/r/t teaching with chat. The main advantage is that it makes people read and write on their toes – it’s speed rhetoric. The main disadvantage is that it discourages (no – prevents) the kind of careful reasoning and word choice that we value in academia. I’m not sure that’s a reason not to use it, though.

The construction of identity stuff I saw too, but I’ll let someone else riff on that.

-Critter out.

No comments: