December 06, 2005

Education and blogs: a conversational presentation

Last night we had yet another finger food fest at one of Paris’ cool bar lounges near the Opera after nearly all the participants made it through to the end of the last session of the day: the Education Panel.

View the Education panel video - I'm the last one to speak


I was worried that everyone would leave the hall the minute they heard about educators’ struggles to get in to the blogosphere. But this was a presentation with a difference: it was a conversation, using Internet Relay Chat to instant message reactions to what the speakers (me included) were saying. And they liked it, apparently. And while my own part of the panel was perhaps not as slick or bullet-point-pretty as some may have wanted it to be I was able to get through the questions I had been asking myself yesterday. Above all, and this is the first time that I’ve done this in a conference, I was able to maintain a conversation with all the participants through the IRC Backchat – a kind of MSN that everyone in the conference was tuned into and could use to communicate with each other. So, between segments of my spiel I was able to respond to questions or comments left spontaneously by the people sat in front of me.

I’ve copied some of it below to give you a flavour. Note the nice comments about my accent and my presentation – reassuring to get this instant feedback when you’re not sure of your audience (they were all business people and I am certainly not!). Also, it’s the first time I’ve been chatted up actually during a presentation. Have to try this again ;-)

Read the chat by clicking the link below.

Me doing my Presentation à la IRC - they seemed to like it.

*** You have joined the channel
freenode-connect VERSION request #lesblogs [freenode-info] If you're at a conference, please contact freenode staff to make sure we've made special allowance for many users coming into our network from a single internet address ( ). Thanks!

tara_ Joe?
factoryjoe ?
BenHammersley why does he speak funny?
dotBen Lloyd davis does
Suw i thought that was Lloyd who exposed himself on his blog?
dotBen he exposes himself
neilmcintosh damned scotch accent
BenHammersley that blokes incomprehensible!
dotBen on this blog
NicoleS well, they will at first have problems understanding him
factoryjoe hugh macintosh == irish?
*** Les has quit IRC (Success)
BenHammersley lol
BenHammersley och aye
factoryjoe oh
Suw god, no, it's a damn sexy accent
factoryjoe scottish
rodrigo he does have a wee accent
neilmcintosh can you understand him?
ethanz scots, not irish
* NicoleS praises mark hunter from the tartan podcast to 'train' me on that ;)
tara_ totally
gily love is accent
tara_ hot
factoryjoe where's ur utilitkilt?
* BenHammersley has the horn for the accent
neilmcintosh he's my brother and I still can't make out a word
dotBen Suw will sleep with anyone who gets on stage>
factoryjoe his wee willy what?
maartens What!
gily even for a straight guy
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NicoleS only when he has a great accent or what? ;)
tara_ I don't even care what he's saying
maartens And he didn't ask us to come!
* dotBen feels he may have just crossed the line
tara_ I just don't want him to stop
rodrigo saint mungo is shocked
mung at least u guys awa
mung ke
Suw don't look!!
NicoleS well i am satisfied if the voice is 'tasty' ;)
Suw just don't look!!
BenHammersley yooo take the higgggggh roadddd
rodrigo I want some IRN BRU
BenHammersley and I'll takkeee the loooowwww road
cfd looking for someone?
maartens Seems this voice is waking up quite some people...
factoryjoe when i close my eyes, i keep hearing a skinny shrek
dotBen the word och eye?
BenHammersley he's better than the bloody french, you have to admit
dotBen true
martinvars scottish fonero?
tara_ I see something entirely different when I close mine
Suw see, you can't beat a good Scottish accent
NicoleS cool, you can see he is a teacher - read on and still watch everything else.
dotBen <--- proud to be an IBM Thinkpad'er
NicoleS you should hear him talk french
cfd Lenovo
maartens I keep picturing groundskeeper Willy...
tara_ hubba hubba
dotBen stop it
chrisheuer alright guys - stay out of trouble and have fun - will check back in tomorrow afternoon with you all to talk more about blogs in an international light (and chocolate of course)
dotBen poor wee chap
tara_ now you killed it for me
tara_ totally gone
factoryjoe chrisheuer: yeah right
tara_ the moment is dead
Suw chocolate? did someone mention chocolate?
NicoleS tara close your eyes again . ;)
rodrigo it anyone podcasting this ? it's going to be my favourite intro !
dotBen Suw will do anything for chocolate and vodka
maartens I'm videocasting it...
NicoleS suw yes, a full house of it
maartens Video will be up later
tara_ Ack...willy!
factoryjoe people like me
CharlesN yeah podcast
factoryjoe being cheesy
J_Clavier he totally rocks
rodrigo maartens : we should talk with a scotch in hand tonight ;)
BenHammersley The namesh Bond
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*** Les_Blogs is now known as Les
J_Clavier Rodrigo> indeed
NicoleS well, the irish weren't bad either
jy_ scotch accent sounds like they speak on a bad GSM phone line, i miss half of the words :-)
tara_ pooooshing
dotBen Ben, you is a native Jock boy, too, no?
*** ant0ine ([email protected]) has joined the channel
rodrigo Sco-tland invented power right ? or was that James Watt ! ?
NicoleS jy you just have to try better
*** BenHammersley is now known as BonniePrinceChar
factoryjoe shrek:
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surfnode and the telephone
tara_ sex apart?
dotBen I bet their highspeed internet cost less that â≠¬17k
*** BonniePrinceChar is now known as WilliamWallace
tara_ dirty boy
dotBen unlike htis confernece
gily sex apart is a new sitcom
neilmcintosh dotBen - have you seen BT's prices?
factoryjoe DONKEY!!
rodrigo rob roy !
NicoleS sex apart - ist that what we call ldr now? ;)
*** EZToms- has quit IRC (Connection timed out)
J_Clavier Brave Heart
WilliamWallace good question!
tara_ Donkey ... totally
maartens I'm getting paid to be here...
dotBen what's with the donkey, I don't get it?
factoryjoe um
WilliamWallace autistic group think?
tara_ why ARE we here?
factoryjoe *crickets*
NicoleS talk. don't read ewan!
tara_ Shrek!
maartens (disclaimer: I work for Six Apart)
gily we are not here for food
gily for sure
WilliamWallace we're only here for the beer
dotBen eye, it's ya' wee broo'ther
maartens hehe
ethanz tough to be the last speaker of the day... just a very long day and hard to keep the audience at this point...
rodrigo Nokia is offering a bottle of Lagavulin !
chrisheuer last thought -
Suw top down and bottom up at the same time
Suw now *there's* a thought
*** manoupaz ([email protected]) has joined the channel
dotBen Suw, you have a one track mind
dotBen like this conference (single track)
Suw dotBen: no no, you're just projecting
WilliamWallace rah
dotBen what is this "projecting"?
chrisheuer g'nite
*** _neezee has quit IRC (Read error: 110 (Connection timed out))
tara_ Blog responsibly
*** chrisheuer has quit IRC ()
WilliamWallace he's good
neilmcintosh god no - not a national sport. look at what happened with the football
maartens Don't drink and blog, for example...
WilliamWallace he was good, he was
mung EWAN : do you lobbying your vision abroad?
weemac cheers
tara_ Ewan rocks
Suw Ewan++
gily yep
weemac tara - see you for a drink later ;-)
maartens +
rodrigo you're the man
maartens +++
Suw Ewan, can you just talk some more please
jemstone best speaker today apart from christophe the mayor regulator
Suw don't mind what you say
gily big up
factoryjoe suw++
dotBen It's awful, isn't. Awful chatters
*** mark_hu has quit IRC (Success)
RMacK yeah if you blog irresponsibly, when they apply for their 1st job, and their prospective employers google them, it could be interesting..
NicoleS just talk and let the sweet voice bring up ideas on other things ... *gg*
*** martinvars has quit IRC ()
*** WilliamWallace is now known as BenHammersley
tara_ Other things rock
factoryjoe school is so p0wned
Suw We would never go of and do other things
Suw oh no
Suw never ever ever.
Suw *cough*
tara_ other things other things other things
BenHammersley take a wee?
tara_ DRINK!
BenHammersley on stage?
BenHammersley dear lord man!
dotBen eye
CharlesN smore question to ewan
maartens If chatting and surfing was allowed in the class, the kids would fact check the teacher with google...
rodrigo like in the wee hours...
J_Clavier Stop it for heaven's sake
dotBen Ben, we'll be doing this for you when you wear your skirt! sorry, kilt
factoryjoe the teachers would have it as bad as the journalists and politicians
*** NicoleS is now known as NicoleSimon
Suw ooooh yes. the skirt.
maartens We're logging IP adresses...
BenHammersley copyright protection in Scotland is a wee drm afore ye go
NicoleSimon we don't need synonyms to talk about us :)
tara_ oh, you don't think we'd say it in front of other people?
dotBen YEAH - Hammer's in da skirt
NicoleSimon (just got used to me nick) ;)
dotBen BenJammersley++
*** NicoleSimon is now known as _neezee
RMacK multitasking+++
Suw hammersley, can you do a scottish accent tomorrow?
BenHammersley of coursh
peterkaminski it'd go with the skirt
dotBen Action man ben (sadly not me)
weemac wear the skirt Hammersley!
Suw Your besht Shean Connery?
_neezee suw well, he sounds better through a telefon, don't mind the accent ;)
BenHammersley I will
factoryjoe DONKEY: Ooh, Shrek, did you do that? Man, you gotta warn somebody before you just crack one off. My mouth was open and everything.
factoryjoe SHREK: Believe me, donkey, if it was me, you'd be dead. It is brimstone. We must be getting close.
dotBen can you put on a lady's acent? Like the funny people from Little Britain?
*** manoupaz has quit IRC (Client Quit)
factoryjoe DONKEY: Yeah right, brimstone. Don't be talking about no brimstone. I know what I smell and it was no brimstone. It come off no stone either.
tara_ We are!
cfd :)
tara_ We are multi-listeners
BenHammersley I am a laaaady, you know. With my lady's blog, and my lady's gloves...
factoryjoe my add is happily fed
tara_ he's killing me
_neezee and multi drinkers?
_neezee BenHammersley and you lady clothes.
RMacK they have "sex week" at SCHOOL over there?? [This is because of the ‘six’ week project we did at MGS]
*** m-c has quit IRC ()
RMacK ;-)
Suw ooh, no pressure then
BenHammersley that's a great point
BenHammersley Mr Mc is top
dotBen RMack: yeah - the practical lessons are fantastic
*** mung has quit IRC ("Chatzilla 0.9.69 [Mozilla rv:1.7.12/20050915]")
factoryjoe of course, they can't keep up
weemac come on...!
gily polychronic ?
mcabiling by the way is there going to be a compilation of all the ppt's during the conf ?
mcabiling in PDF ?
weemac we talk about emotions, and feelings, and...
factoryjoe mutlidimensional conversation is where it's at
factoryjoe hello, video games?
RMacK thouht we were being censored for a moment there..
weemac PPts will be burnt in a ceremony later tonioght
J_Clavier I will put up my preso and Om's video
tara_ oh yes please
*** antoin has quit IRC (Read error: 113 (No route to host))
mcabiling thanks jef
_neezee jeff that would be great.
dotBen OMs video, omg
dotBen Another great advert for skype.
pforret asynchronous, like in ... email?
dotBen in addition to having their app shut down on the network here
J_Clavier And you guys have not seen the unedited version
Suw weemac: how do you deal with information overload for kids though? or do they deal with it better than us (where 'us' = 'me')?
weemac they don't know the meaning of overload
mcabiling lol
peterkaminski different people overload different ways
factoryjoe physical == virtual
factoryjoe whoa
peterkaminski suw, some get overloaded really easy, others are bored unless there's way too much going on
rodrigo identity 2.0:
Suw that makes sense
factoryjoe yeah education seems ready to be rethunk
schickr jeff, programming is overrated. I say folks to use vi.
J_Clavier ethanz> I take it you were using emacs :-)
factoryjoe rodrigo: if only it were open source
factoryjoe hohum
gily beer time
ethanz still am, J_Clavier... but I don't hold it against you...
gily oups, last question
peterkaminski factoryjoe almost had enough going on there to have fun when we were all going on there a few minutes ago
dltq or - yeah :>
peterkaminski otoh, i work with people that have to sit with their backs to the screen if there's anything interactive like SubEtha or IRC going on
KevinMarks as opposed to open id and ego systems, like this channel?
peterkaminski (just a couple people, not everybody) but otoh, they're really good at long-term attention
*** surfnode has quit IRC ("Chatzilla [Firefox 1.0.7/20050915]")
peterkaminski loic calls time, day's over
schickr Pizza. Finger size!
rvr ethanz: lol
*** m-c ([email protected]) has joined the channel
schickr Bye. See all you pc types later. My thumbs are killing.
*** YmeBosma has quit IRC ()
factoryjoe ciao
weemac Is it rude to get off the podium to get some pizza NOW???
*** schickr has left the channel ("Tchau")
_neezee till later :)
factoryjoe freeloader!
*** _neezee has quit IRC ()
gily bye
weemac hehe
Suw weemac: not at all
*** gily has left the channel ()
Suw come give us a dose of your lovely accent
*** pforret has quit IRC ()
ethanz weemac - you need to find the dinner if you want someone to feed you...
*** m-c has quit IRC (Client Quit)
weemac I know where it is - I'm just shy
ethanz hence the importance of the map...
* dglazkov is going to grab some lunch. Don't talk about anything important for the next few hours
Suw 'shy' he says, sitting in front of a few hundred people
*** m-c ([email protected]) has joined the channel
weemac see you there!
factoryjoe dglazkov: drink time
*** neilmcintosh has quit IRC ()
*** cfd has quit IRC ()
Info The connection to the server is no longer active


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They didn't seem to care what you were saying - just all seem to be fantasizing about your sexy accent! I don't know if I'd be flattered by the girl who keeps telling everyone to shut their eyes though!

Euan was one of the best speakers at this event and one of the few to engage directly with the IRCers (thats must come from being a lecturer)

Your blog project sounds challenging, immense and worthwile. Good luck.

Cheers Jem. If anyone wants to connect up with their university or school in an international edublogging project just get in touch.

Hi, great to see you multitasking with the presentation and the irc channel ;-)

I listened to the podcast you did with Nicole Simon before Les Blogs with great enthusiasm. This is a superb blog! I will tell my Norwegian teacher contacts about this site, and I look forward to reading a lot more here.

This post has been annoying me for the past week. I tried to ignore it, but it keeps coming up as new in my bloglines feed. I mean, come on, just how helpful is this type of interaction? I can imagine that it was flattering for you as a speaker to know in real time that people found you attractive and that at least nobody was mocking what you were actually saying — but the background noise is really just that, background noise. It doesn't deserve a reaction and it really doesn't deserve to be articulated in anything more than a whisper to a colleague at one's side. And although responding to the banter whilst giving a talk is quite a feat of juggling competing concentrations, in this case, it simply was not worth it. Imagine if university teaching routinely had access to the same technology and students en masse could participate in a presentation using the same tools. I, for one, would be incredibly excited about that. If the supplementary means of interaction was used to tell me repeatedly and at length how cute my Scottish accent was, I have to admit that I would be a tad irritated (and believe me, I've been subjected to that conversation opener after many presentations. "But what about the content?" I silently wonder, in my thickest internal monologue brogue) I believe in interaction and a modern, technological communicative approach, but the interaction and the communication have to be meaningful and add a worthwhile layer to the original discourse.

You are right that the stuff I have put up here from the IRC is simply chatter. A lot of it was during the whole two days. But there were good questions hidden in there. It was a case of trying to see them as they came up and, yes, that was worthwhile. Sorry to have annoyed you, Lesley. This post was just one of my slightly more self-indulgent ones - I hope that's allowed. ;-)

Hey, self-indulge away: it makes for thought-provoking posts. If you hadn't posted this I'd have had no idea what the famous back channel was all about.

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About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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