No, I don’t mean sexual education although ChatRoulette is famous for its normal people to weirdo ratio.
But if you put all that aside the concept itself could work tremendously well in a controlled environment.
Jason West, the Founder of the Languages Out There method told me about ChatRoulette when the rest of us were still unaware of it. He immediately saw the potential of the idea for English learners as ChatRoulette is the closest thing to meet a total stranger on the street and ask him / her for the next bus stop.
Unfortunately the whole thing took off and soon became the “phenomenon” the reservation for exhibitionists that it is known for today.
But there is still hope! As in every other hype the bandwagon will soon be entered by “copy cats” who take the basic idea and bring it on the market in a cleaner version.
The first one was Tinychat with the Tinychat Next application. The application works with Facebook Connect and offers the same “thrill” of meeting random people. The fact that you link the chat to your Facebook account might filter out most of the weirdos.
If you actually want to host your own ChatRoulettesque application on your website or blog, you should check out CamChatScript.com. The site offers a clone script of the ChatRoulette which you can embed on your own site, there are even options for a white label version.
And this is very interesting coming back to the idea of the use in education. If you take the script and put it behind closed doors, only available to students and pre-scanned random chat partners. Those chat partners would come from English speaking countries for English students, from France for French etc. or.
I really think it would be worth a try. People love to chat and to meet people from different countries so it could work as a stand alone product or would be a great addition to language learning communities like Livemocha, Babbel or Busuu.
Otherwise take this good advice from the guys of AC/DC.