Tech It Out! #24

Backchannel Conversations

April 13, 2015

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This Week's Focus: Backchannel Conversations

What is a backchannel? The backchannel is the conversation that goes on alongside the primary activity, presentation, or discussion. Use these tools to promote discussion and student involvement throughout the activity, and then refer back to it to see if any questions weren't answered or if any interesting points were brought up. For example, students might participate in backchannel conversation as they watch a video clip or as they read a chapter from the textbook. Click HERE for a full list of backchannel tools.
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MeetingWords will remind you of Google Docs, in that multiple participants are typing on the same document. Each participant's text is highlighted a different color, and up to 32 people can collaborate at the same time. No sign in is required, and all students need is a link to join.
Padlet is a virtual pinboard that allows participants to add text, links, files, and video. Great backchannel tool for longer units or research projects!
Today's Meet is an online chat room that closes after a certain amount of time. The free version allows for basic conversation, or the paid version ($5/month) allows teachers to have more control over chat room features.
Backchanneling (new word!) can be achieved with a shared Google Doc, but sometimes it's nice to mix things up and try something new. Consistently using specific tools for specific activities also helps students develop routines and recognize the purpose of the lesson. For example, students might use Google Docs for writing essays, Today's Meet for backchannel conversations. and Padlet for collecting research.

As always, please get in touch with me if you're interested in learning more about these great tech tools!