Thursday, 10 January 2013


Backchanneling. A word that I hadn't heard of until this past fall at the 2012 MANACE SAGE conference, a great place to brush up on the latest tech use in classrooms. Backchanneling is the student chatter in class when a teacher is instructing. It can range from comments about how boring or pointless the lesson being delivered is to questions relating to the material being presented.  Two web applications have grown out of this concept- Poll Everywhere and TodaysMeet.  In one-to-one classrooms or those in which teachers are already competing with student devices for attention, this may be a viable option to enhance classroom discussion.  The premise is simple: set up a backchannel 'room' with an identifiable name, deliver a lesson or lecture, and have the students provide you with immediate feedback.  It is a way of assessing for student understanding on the fly.  If something doesn't make sense, students can post a question or comment without the anxiety of verbalizing their confusion. It adds to debate in the classroom, allows teachers to respond to questions that may not have surfaced during a lecture or lesson, and could be a great way of monitoring classroom contributions if you have set that requirement up in your course description.  If you're concerned about inappropriate content appearing on your projector screen, save the data that is collected in your room, print your page and deal with it after class or deliver the content to the appropriate disciplinarian.

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