Yup. Chat + Roulette = Chatroulette. You probably haven’t tried it and maybe you haven’t even heard of it yet. Now that laptops and netbooks come with built-in webcams, Internet innovators are thinking outside the box and finding new ways for people to connect. Welcome Chatroulette. Casey Neistat does a fantastic job at explaining Chatroulette and how it works in a wonderfully produced 6 minute video that he has made. I just love the types of analyses he does as well. Watch the video and then think about it from an educational context.
As an educational practitioner, I have to ask myself 'Could Chatroulette be used for learning or teaching?' I better give it a try. I spent 30 minutes randomly connecting to chat partners at between 8:30am and 9am Eastern Standard Time on a Friday morning. My experience was not so positive. I connected with 60 random chat partners during that period of time. 10 of them fell into the category of 'pervert' (as described in Casey Neistat's video) and that is pretty distracting. You sure wouldn't want these 'perverts' to flash up on the screen in front of your grade 6 class! Of the other 50 non-perverts that I clicked through a grand total of TWO people decided I was worthy to chat with. The first was a man from England smoking a cigarette. His audio was poor and he had a thick middle eastern accent. The combination made it also very difficult for me to communicate with him. So after trying for about 30 seconds I gave up and went in search of my another chat partner. The second person to talk to me was a man in his mid 20's in Germany named Harry. I chatted with him about about 3-4 minutes. Nice guy. We joked about the fact that no one on Chatroulette actually wants to chat. Overall it was a good conversation and we said farewell. So after this somewhat disappointing investment of 30 minutes, I must say that I do not see Chatroullette as having much application to education at this time.
But what if it changed? What if you could pre-designate yourself into a 'category' like 'Clean chat for education' and then be connected randomly to other people who self-selected the same category. Maybe that would work better? Maybe perverts would select the 'dating' category and leave the educators and the learners alone (*laugh*). What do you think? If you have a neat idea about Chatroulette, please post a comment below.