Monday, March 22, 2010

Chat Roulette in Education?

I want to start this post by saying that in NO WAY am I supportive of using Chat Roulette in its current form in K12 education (for a great overview of Chat Roulette, check out this video). However,  I think a school-friendly version has a great deal of learning potential, primarily in language learning. I've long wanted to help our language teachers develop one-to-one skype buddies with native speaking students in other regions of the world, but the logistical barriers to such an approach always seem to block our progress.

What about an online space where students could securely sign-in to meet and have informal conversations in the language that they are learning at any time? There could be rooms for nearly all languages, even the languages not often offered in our schools. I'm kind of imagining a space like the educational version of voicethread, where students and schools are vetted into the community and held accountable, but with real time web camera and audio integration. We'd never need to worry about the complications associated with scheduling one-on-one skype buddies and our students would always have access to a native speaker of the language that they are learning.

What do you think? What are some other ways that such a vetted, secure platform might have merit and value in our schools?


  1. I love the idea of narrowing down something like ChatRoulette into something specific like language learning in a safe, educational environment.
    I've always wanted to learn Finnish, and the only way to really learn it, is to converse with someone who speaks it fluently.
    I wonder how difficult of a project something like that would actually be...

    (p.s. I'm still too afraid to even try ChatRoulette because of the "boys, girls, and perverts")

  2. I would love to see something like this. I think it would be enormously useful for making connections between classrooms. While it is possible to do this without a "chat app" of some sort (see langwitches 80 days project) I still think even having a directory of some sort has great potential.

  3. A couple of weeks ago two school libraries back east set up an open chat in their libraries. All day, students were able to see who was onscreen at the other school and talk to them. I understand it was quite successful - an experiment with no particular expected outcome but a good demonstration of the ability to have that kind of interaction. It would be fun to do that type of thing in a useful/educational way.

  4. Sorry for commenting on an old post. I'm the founder of and I'm toying around with this idea right now. I created a prototype and I'm looking for "early adopter"-type teachers who might want to try it out with their classes. It might be a great way of solving the central problems of student engagement and exposure to native speakers. If there are any teachers you know who'd like to try the idea, please contact me at adam at langolab dot com.