Multi-tasking and the Backchannel: Powerful learning or more noise

Doug Johnson’s been thinking again,

I thought of this yesterday when attending a presentation by Michael Wesch of The Machine is Using Us fame. (Great presenter and message, BTW). At the end of the keynote, I had an entire page of handwritten notes, which has become unusual for me. Why?

My laptop’s battery was dead and the lecture hall had zero electrical outlets. I could not do my usual thing of checking e-mail, reading rss feeds, or Twittering and half attending to the lecture. Now Wesch’s talk was probably interesting enough to suck my eyeballs away from the computer screen, but then again, maybe not.

One of the things that I seriously question is the conversation about “enhancing” presentations with live blogging, back-channel discussions, streaming on-screen chat, and other noxious goings-on. Are these things actually valuable or are we doing them because we’re nerds and we can?

I already responded a bit but want to flesh out the thinking a bit more. First of all, I think the term “multi-tasking” gets used to describe a number of things and I’m somewhat unclear of the definition. Without addressing Dr. Medina’s research specifically, I want to focus the discussion more directly around … Read the rest