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« Craig Smith from Language Perfect on the success of the European Language Olympics | Main | ULearn conference call on Skype »




I was at #fote10 and while watching your presentation made the following tweet

"I understand what Joe is saying but I don't think this is the future - most people here probably know most of this and are doing it #fote10"

Please accept my apologies for missing the point at the time and I am very sorry for any offence caused. It was not my intention to be unnecessarily mean. Chris Grant has it spot on at the end of his post when he describes how he can use what you were talking about with teachers. I use the resources you were discussing in much the same way and have seen huge benefits from it which I am always keen to emphasise to teachers where I work.


Hi Nathan,

Absolutely no need to apologise. I actually thought your tweet was very measured and fair. What I didn't appreciate was the derisory overtones some felt they needed to add to their comments which were neither constructive nor helpful.

I don't normally rant on this blog, prefering to be more objective than subjective, but I'm glad I did decide to blog this in the end as I think it needed to be said.

I appreciate the swiftness of your feedback and concern. I hope other teachers find the points made in the presentation and accompanying links useful and see how Twitter plus other tools can be used in such a positive way for their own embetterment.

Hi Joe,
I doubt it will make you feel any better but as highlighted by Steve Wheeler you are in good company

I like Steve's closing thought:

"we should engage in academic discourse and we should feel free to criticise the views of others, but let's conduct ourselves in a manner that is constructive, non-offensive and professional. That's what our students would expect from us, isn't it?"

Thanks for highlighting the twitter subtitling.


Hi Martin,

Thanks for the comment and for including Steve's link. I sympathize completely with the sentiment of the post and I appreciate what he means by 'tweckling' having experienced first hand.

Thanks too for creating the iTitle version of my presentation. It made for interesting if at times uncomfortable reading!

Joe, I just watched the video recording of your talk, with the Twitter feed subtitles. It was a very good practical talk, highlighting the most important features of building a PLN using Twitter as one of the main tools.

It is clear from the backchannel comments that some of the members of the audience felt it was too low-key for FOTE – but this often happens at major conferences and I would not let it bother you. I delivered a low-key presentation at EUROCALL 2010 this year, but I made clear at the beginning that I was not going to present something ground-breaking. I described my presentation as a “trip down memory lane”. Have a look at the video recording if you are interested:

We used CoveritLive as a backchannel at EUROCALL 2010, picking up both CoveritLive comments and Twitter feeds using the #eurocall2010 hashtag. The record of these feeds is in the EUROCALL 2010 blog, e.g.
You can see that EUROCALL people are nicer than FOTE people! But we edit out rude and flippant comments – which we can do on the fly.

On the whole I think you got off lightly. Backchannels are often used to transmit negative and flippant comments by people who have nothing better to do and would not do this in public using their real names. I have seen far more negative comments in backchannels. Overall, you got more positive than negative backchannel comments on your talk.

Re the comments on the music, well, we all have different tastes. I think the music livened up the slideshow.

Only one negative comment I would agree with. Blue text on a bright yellow background is, according to my daughter (a professional graphic designer), not a good combination as it consists of two primary colours that cause a “bleeding” effect when viewed by some people. Some colour combinations should never be used, e.g. red/green, blue/orange, yellow/violet (or colours close to these) as colour-blind people cannot read them and normally-sighted people find them hard to read.


Dear Joe

I feel strongly that being critical-and not constructive-on Twitter while somebody is trying to make a point in public is the equivalent of heckling people-neither big nor clever. These people would probably not even say a word to you if they saw you face to face. I also think that if they behave in such a way, they are not where they say they are. A PLN needs to be supportive, inclusive and non-judgemental and they should demonstrate that by the way they behave too.

Dear Graham,

Thank you for your comment. I agree that some of the audience clearly felt that the talk was too low-key for them which is fair comment, but what surprised me was the way in which they felt it was OK to voice their frustration in the tweckling way they did.

I appreciate it could have been a lot worse though.

Thanks for the Eurocall links and for the colour scheme recommendation. Much appreciated.

I totally agree Isabelle!

I agree, Isabelle. I like the term "tweckling". It's useful to describe an unpleasant feature of Twitter. People who heckle you vocally can be put down, but people who use a text backchannel in this cowardly way are more difficult to shut up. I used to be against censorship, but having seen the destructive effects of backchannelling and the abuse of Twitter and social networks, I am more inclined to use it. At EUROCALL 2010 I immediately zapped flippant comments in CoveritLive as soon as they came in. And two social networks to which I belong have had to eject a persistent spammer/heckler as he was spoiling the environment for everyone.

Constructive criticism - fine. Childish and flippant comments - no!


My name is Sarah Blankenship, I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am currently enrolled in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class. This was a very informative post. Thanks for sharing!

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