3 backchannel tools to encourage active learning

January 28, 2014

What is a backchannel? A backchannel is a live, text-based, conversation that takes place while you teach. Students can pose questions to the group or make public comments without having to wait their turn or ask for permission. The goal of using a backchannel is to encourage passive students to become active learners.


What are the benefits and limitations? OK, so let’s address the elephant in the room. A lot of you may be concerned (and rightly so!) about introducing an interactive chat tool while you are teaching. Students could post inappropriate comments, go off topic, or simply not participate! I definitely agree that there needs to be some firm ground rules established before any backchannel tools are used. However, when used responsibly, I can personally attest that backchannels have the potential to get more students talking and participating in a lecture. A backchannel can be good for shy students or those Read the rest of this entry »

ICT Tip: Today’s Meet creates a “backchannel” in your classroom

June 3, 2011

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:


Quick overview: Today’s Meet (www.todaysmeet.com) allows you to setup a “backchannel” for your audience or students while you are presenting or teaching.  It takes less than 1 minute to set up and can keep a record of discussions for up to 1 year.

What is a backchannel? A backchannel is basically a real-time “chat room” that your audience can participate in.  This discussion can also be projected on a screen or wall while you are teaching.  The idea behind such a tool is that participants can publicly ask questions without having to wait for a break or permission.  The backchannel displays comments or questions in the order they were typed.  Questions can be answered by the speaker (the teacher) or other audience members (students) creating a multi-tiered learning or meeting environment.  Keep in mind that participants must have access to the internet via computer or smartphone during the lecture.

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