Skypecasting – a Revelation

Okay, the secret’s out–I’m not a techie.

I’m a teacher who has integrated social software, digital storytelling, video and audio into my teaching for pedagogical reasons–because computer technology has offered me ways both to do what I already did well–but better–and to prepare my students for an increasingly multimedia online world . Before I ventured onto my first blogs some five years ago, I barely knew how to organize my email folders. And even now that I am fully immersed in this social software world, I am still stretching just to keep up with RSS and wikis and podcasting and the rest of the emerging technologies. I’m just now considering the possibiities of gaming.

Indeed. This weekend, before I could participate in the Webcast, I needed help to figure out Skype and to prevent the headset from turning Dave’s and Jeff’s locations into echo chambers. I couldn’t tap away at the keyboard in the Chat room while I was talking on the Webcast–and as I peeked in at the Chat Room, I marveled at how Dave was tapping away as he talked. I’ve got a long way to go before I am really comfortable with a wide array of tools used all at once. (It reminded me of Blogtalk2 a couple of summers ago, where kind souls like Suw Charman, and Lee Bryant, and Roland Tanglao and Cyprien Lomas showed me how to backchannel –repeatedly–and last May’s Social Software in the Academy Workshop in Los Angeles where Justin Hall was able to Google-jockey, ask questions, back-channel and move between some twenty-odd windows on his screen–all at once, gracefully (thanks, MEB, for the photo). It was dizzying. It wasn’t my world.

I have shied away from IM and multiple simultaneous experiences on the computer. I’ve always been a one-at-a-time kind of thinker even if I am restless and curious and bold. I love blogs and wikis and podcasts–all asynchronous, all open to revision, to quiet reflection and to the return. They make such sense for the teacher of critical and creative thinking and writing.

But Sunday’s experience has me rethinking real-time applications. It was a blast sitting there at my computer talking with people from all over the world about social software in the classroom, watching them tap away in the Chat Room. Dave and Jeff are onto something pretty fabulous. Talking with Will and his students in real time but knowing our conversation would also be podcast, instead of writing to and about them at some later time, added something valuable–yes, an obvious immediate, present in-the-moment experience. It’s what the classroom gives my students–that time together. Interesting to feel it with a headset and a computer screen and noone else in the room.

I could see the real value of inviting the world in to comment and ask questions and listen in right then as well as later via the podcast. And I’m wishing I could get my abroad bloggers set up to do some webcasts right now. I see all kinds of applications within the classroom and the college as a whole–what a great way to bring alumni into conversations, or for Admissions to conduct information sessions. In addition to experts joining written discussions on the blog, I could see bringing them into the classroom so simply via webcasts. What a great way to connect students from several institutions–or students doing internships, or–

Okay okay, so I’m slow, but I get it, I get it.