I helped our admission office here host a chat for prospective students. We used CoverItLive, and for our first go round, I think it went pretty well.
I looked around for something that was free or really cheap. CoverItLive was free, it looked cool, and it was free. That being said, if the crowd had been the 25-30 I had expected, I don’t know if it would have worked well. Admittedly, I didn’t spend much time playing in the guts of the thing, but I had to approve every comment. It would have been much easier if everyone’s comments were automatically posted, yet I retained the ability to unpost them.
That is assuming the crowd had been the 25-30 I was expecting. I’ll get back to this one.
So we gathered in the admission office with some cookies and milk to say thank you to the 12 prefects who had volunteered their time to be the student chat leaders. I gave them a brief overview at what was going to happen and then switched the room on 15 minutes before the advertised start time. No sooner had I opened the door when comments began flooding in-and I mean flooding. I was clicking away trying to approve comments, set our students up as admins and quickly became overwhelmed. There was consistently a 4 minute gap between when a comment was submitted to when it was posted.
It turns out that we had 710 people log into that chat. My experience had me expecting 30 at the most. For a while I was worried that we would have more prefects then perspective students. We had only sent an email out announcing the chat three days prior. That I guess is the power of reputation.
So the feature that was originally a major pain, turned out to be a life saver. I can only imagine the chaos of an unfiltered chat. It would have been impossible to keep up. For the next one, I think we’re going to have to include some text explaining how the system works, that not all questions will be answered, but we’ll try. The last thing I’d want is for a kid to get frustrated that their question didn’t get answered because the chat room was too crowded. That is so not who we are. We’re a small school where everyone gets attention and I’d hate to leave anyone with a different impression.
If you’d like to get a sense for what it was like, the transcript is still up here. We’re going to be doing another one soon for admitted students. It’s a pretty fun time and we have a blast with the students. I might try to video tape it. I’ll post it here if I do.