Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I am a host of the early synchronous live-chat session that takes place on Twitter at 4.30 on Thursday afternoons in the UK (5.30 pm CET and 11.30 am EDT) known as #lrnchat. I also regularly blog and talk about how valuable it is as a professional development learning experience for Learning & Development professionals – particularly those involved in workplace learning.
Today I received the following email from a new lrnchatter:
"Earlier this week I had my first “twitter LIVE” experience with #lrnchat. I discovered lrnchat through your blog and it seemed like a good idea. My experience, however, was a learning one, but not in the way I expected it to be. My purpose in writing you is to increase my understanding of the “live chat” approach and its intended value.
I followed the lrnchat in TweetDeck. I had barely tweeted my presence when multiple tweets started coming in. They were occurring so fast that I couldn’t even finish reading one because it would get bumped down in the stack and I could not find the tweet I had been reading. Later on the tweets were so filled with “@”, “#” and bit.ly links that they made no sense unless you had remembered the comment made by the @[name] or had visited the link. I found myself spending all of my time “navigating” (i.e. finding my place: where am I?) and none of my time gaining any insights or learning. I am amazed that people actually had the time to tweet!!
When I was able to catch some of the tweets, the comments seemed completely random. True the “choir” was singing, but in this case it seemed that everyone was singing a slightly different song and no one voice was distinguishable from the next. The result – cacophony.
Finally, I gave up. If I really wanted to know anything about “back channeling” at conferences I would likely use a more efficient approach. I couldn’t imaging sitting through 90 minutes trying to high-speed sift through the noise to find a gem or two. The thought “Inefficient learning” comes to mind…
So I’m hoping you might have some guidance for me. Was I using the wrong tool? Was Thursday’s chat the “norm” (in which case I might just be too “old school” to absorb it!) or did I just happen to chose a first experience that wasn’t the ideal place to get started? What did anyone learn from that lrnchat session and how did they learn that (because the only thing I learned was my inability to learn from that format)?
Like you, I believe that the world of adult learning is changing rapidly … as it should be given the tools and technologies at our disposal today. I want to genuinely thank you for catalyzing discussions that challenge the century old precepts that learning only happens when an “expert” imparts knowledge to the “student”. I’m hopeful that you can help me see the value of live twitter streaming in an increasingly noisy marketplace of learning technologies."
My own response was as follows:
"My first session in #lrnchat I felt the same; but I got used to the pace of it all after a couple of sessions. You can’t read every tweet or look at every link whilst it’s live, so that’s why we post a transcript so that you can go back and review the conversation to help you find those “learning gems” ."
But as I think this is a very interesting question, and an experience that other newcomers to lrnchat may be having, I gained the permission of the writer to reproduce the email here, and would like to invite all lrnchatters to share their own experiences of how they cope with the fast flow of the session and use it as a valuable learning activity.
In fact what advice/guidance/support should we giving to those new to synchronous live chat sessions like #lrnchat?