One of our ongoing concerns/interests as part of the myNotebook Project at William and Mary is how to integrate the student machines into medium and large classes so that they contribute to the learning–rather than distract from it.
Larry Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the New Media Consortium, discribes a pretty low tech way of enhancing communication with IM using three screens in lecture hall.
A few intrepid professors are doing just that — for example, at the University of Southern California, several classes are setting up active IM “backchannels” to encourage a running dialog during class. The IM threads are displayed on one of three screens at the front of the room. Another is controlled by a “Google jockey” who does real time searches on words and sites mentioned in either channel.
This was used as an example of the one of the major trends in the NMC’s 2005 Horizon Report (PDF) on Extended Learning.