by measley

Recently I asked my students if they had ever been chastised by a teacher for asking another classmate for clarification or help on an assignment, only to have the teacher "smack" them down for talking in class; most everyone raised their hand. But what if there was a way to promote that type of student interaction? Backchanneling can potentially foot that bill . . . .

Backchanneling, as defined by the website TodaysMeet, is "everything going on in the room that isn't coming from the presenter." It is the side conversations that are taking place in every classroom, on every day, in every school. Rather than fight the backchannel (which does nothing to prevent it -- it just irritates the students & leaves you frustrated & exhausted), why not embrace it? Use it as a tool for education?

When you embrace backchanneling, you are basically allowing a school sanctioned side conversation to take place (via technology) that can be much less disruptive than the more "primitive" methods students use (talking, passing notes, etc.). Students can share their thoughts, ask questions & get answers like never before. In addition, you can get immediate feedback from your students on your lecture/lesson/presentation.


Links & Examples:

Below are some links to websites that may or may not work for you as a backchannel in your classroom. Each site is unique & thus lends itself to making your backchannel unique. I've added my own thoughts (based on classroom experiences) to some of them; however, don't let that influence you. Try them out for yourself & find one that works best for you.

  • The quintessential backchanneling site! Easy to set up & operate with no membership or email addresses needed!
  • Ms. Miller uses this for Bell Ringers. See how...
  • A great little site that utilizes a "Post-It" note concept for student replies. It also does not need membership or email addresses for students to participate. One draw back that I've experienced is that you don't want to use this first thing in the morning (when all the computers are updating or scanning), during lunck (when the lunch ladies are using SISK12 to charge student's accounts) or at other "bandwidth stressing" moments of the day. If you school doesn't experience that . . . carry on!