As you’ll notice in my two previous posts, I’ve been experimenting with backchanneling with my grade eight students. I’m using Cover it Live along with some Youtube videos about The Holocaust and WW2, our current inquiry topics. I have to admit I felt really silly at first using a chatroom in a face to face environment. I didn’t really understand how that would make any improvements. After all, a chatroom is normally used to bridge the physical distance between people. If you’re already sitting inn the same room, what is the need for using technology? While it is too early for me to make any decisions about the value of backchanneling in my classroom, here are my first impressions:

1) Students who normally are shy and refuse to participate in class discussions are given a voice, and, trust me, they are USING it.

2) Backchanneling allows me to assess and measure student understanding during presentations. It becomes very obvious where there are gaps in knowledge and understanding. I can either address the gaps right away or plan for further lessons or experiences.

3) Interesting inquiries have emerged from the sessions and lead the direction of the unit of study. For example, while I had not planned on taking up the chemical properties of the atomic bombs, my students want to learn about this BADLY. I would have passed over this had the chatroom wall not been filled with such inquiries. Hmm, maybe pre-planning is slightly overrated?

4) What a great way to involve parents either in the live session or by posting the session archives for review.

5) The archives can be reviewed by students later to review info or media included in the session.

More to come….


Posted on April 24, 2009, in Live Lessons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. As the author of one of the most widely used back channels (, I wanted to let your readers know that we have just released the BackNoise app for iPhone/iPod/iPad. It’s the same conversation as the website, but now focused into a single fast app. Follow this link for more details.

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