October 09, 2010

Seven Days: How would teachers interact (and react) to your students' discussions about you online

There's an interesting experiment happening on Channel 4 (UK) at the moment, which makes me wonder what learning, schools and teachers might borrow from nearly-now nearly-live interaction between audience (students, parents, community) and "reality subjects" (educators, school management).

The show reveals the life of a score or so of normal people living in Notting Hill are followed each week by the cameras, their week cut up into one hour of docu-drama, and broadcast that night. The difference with most docs is that the flow of the programme, week-to-week semi-live, allows the "characters" to interact with their public, through the online site, Twitter and Facebook, but also through real-life interactions in cafés and the street. It's called Seven Days.

Matt Locke, helping to mastermind the online-TV mix here, noticed something the other night that he'd never spotted before:

About half-way through the latest episode of Seven Days, one of the characters, Cassie, took out her laptop and started talking about how people were talking about her on the show’s website. Sitting at home, monitoring the performance of the site on my laptop, I saw a huge spike in traffic as thousands of other people logged onto the site to see what all the fuss was about. This spike was higher than we’d seen the week before, when the rush of people coming to the site on launch night crashed the servers, and even higher than the biggest peak we saw in the final series of Big Brother earlier this year. We’d clearly hit on something, but what was it?

This is new for television. It's less new for live conferences where panelists interact with audience for real and on Twitter, responding and adjusting as appropriate.

It would be totally revolutionary, and slightly uneasy-feeling, for the vast majority of teachers. How would you react if students were criticising, feeding back or applauding your professional - and potentially personal - life online, raw and ready for you to react to the next time you see them online or in person? For years students have done this behind closed doors, or on the way home.

As we enter an era of online group spaces arguably being the most comfortable fora for young people to discuss their lives, I wonder how this would jar or excite.


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I think it would be exciting - and could do so much to improve performance. It'd get over the silence when you ask a student if you've made something clear - often they're not willing to come right out with it and tell you you're as clear as mud, but might well spill the beans online.

True - I think it would be a lot easier for bunch of people to tell what they feel online. Well, let's face it - people are more open in the web.

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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.

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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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