At the beginning of this month, full of cold and coughing for England, I gave a 20 minute presentation at the Future of Technology in Education event at Senate House in London. It concerned the value of creating a personal learning network using RSS, Twitter and other web tools as a way of improving your own continuing professional development for free in the difficult economic times we now all find ourselves in.
Subsequently reading the Twitter backchannel following my talk was a sobering experience to say the least. Reaction was mixed. Some had tweeted very positively and enjoyed the practical nature of the presentation which they felt would be an ideal introduction to a Twitter newbie.
Others were less encouraging and said I was preaching to the converted and some complained of my choice of PowerPoint formating, colour scheme and musical accompaniment.
After a day to reflect, Chris Grant summarised his impressions of the negativity clearly felt by a faction of the audience in his blog post FOTE10 and what I learned from Joe Dale reminding colleagues to not forget about the needs of everyday staff and learners when it comes to using technology effectively to enhance learning and that I was a brave man to present in the way I did! I've reflected a lot too on what happened and I'm more than happy to admit that I perhaps underestimated how techno-savvy the 300 odd people present in the room were.
However, to be honest having taken part in numerous backchannels in the past, I was surprised by some of the less supportive, nay flippant, nay downright rude tweets coming from certain individuals who felt the need to express themselves in this way. Obviously delegates are entitled to their own opinions, but I agree with Microsoft's Ray Fleming's comment on this Paul Smith post Looking back on FOTE10 where he says:
Over the weekend somebody (on Twitter) said that they wouldn’t be brave enough to present at an Education conference with a Twitter backchannel, because their “skin isn’t thick enough”.
I think that’s a real issue – if the back channel instantly critcises people who say things which are controversial, or (as happened twice on Friday) before they have even said anything – then it could lead to presenters striving for blandness, to avoid irritating anybody in the audience?
If you would like to watch an enhanced version of my talk complete with the Twitter backchannel as it appeared in real time, feel free to click on this link which Martin Hawskey from JISC has kindly created using the iTitle tool.
For those who are not yet completely au fait with the power of Twitter, RSS and other web tools as a way of nuturing a PLN and improving your own CPD, I've added all the links I refer to in the presentation below as well as including an audio version of my talk which you can download above. Comments as always are welcome.