Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tech Tuesday - Back Channeling

Have you heard of Back Channeling?  If not, no worries, you've probably experienced it, but it was never labeled.

Back Channeling is an active chat that is available during presentations, lectures, class time, etc. that allows participants to post thoughts, respond to questions, share ideas, etc. during the presentation.

A few years ago, I was introduced to Today's Meet at a technology conference.  During a presentation, participants were asked to post thoughts throughout the session.  At different points during the session, the presenter returned to the Today's Meet feed and shared participant responses.  Talk about increasing the level of engagement.  It was a game changer for conference presentations for me.

Fast forward a few years and Back Channeling seems to be all of the rage in classrooms - even at the elementary age.  My most recent experience was at the Upstate Technology Conference.  My PLN was in a session and the presenter used Today's Meet again as the back channel, but our PLN used Twitter to post our thoughts throughout the session.

When it comes to Back Channeling, there are several options.

1. Today's Meet:  This is web-based, free, and doesn't require accounts.  It is extremely easy to use.  You simply name your room, set the time you want it open, and then hit create.  I love that you can set a time frame on the room.  If you teach more than one section of a class, it would be great to let each section see the responses from others. You can also print an archive of the responses and use as a formative assessment - who is responding, who isn't.

Once your room is created, simply provide the link for your participants and they will provide their name and have access.

2. Back Channel Chat - This is a new option that I am excited to test out.  It is an app in the App Store and has been designed specifically for use in classrooms.  This app allows teachers more control over the chat. It is in real time like Todays Meet.  One of my favorite things is the student avatars.  Students are able to choose their avatar and sign in without using personal information.  For you high school teachers, it also has a profanity filter. This app also works with Edmodo, Google Apps, and Schoology. Teachers are also able to moderate each post before it goes live if needed. If you choose to purchase Back Channel Chat, you can also embed resources directly into the feed.

I haven't used this one yet, but here are a few links to help you get started.

I'm ready for the year to start so I can introduce this to my 5th graders.  I plan to use Back Channeling in the following ways:
1. Questions - Some students are less apt to ask questions during a lesson.  This may give them the platform needed to ask about a concept they do not understand.

2. Formative Assessments - During a lesson, I may post a question for students to respond to that I want to see written down, but still have a response from every student.  I plan to print the transcript out for future use when planning instruction.

3. Feedback - I think it is important for students to give me feedback on the lesson.  I plan on having a reflection time at the end of lessons for students to tell me what went well, what I needed to work on etc.

If you use Back Channeling in your classroom already, leave a comment to let us know how you use it.

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