Tech Tool Tuesday #13


What is backchanneling you ask? According to Toledo and Peters (2010)Backchannels, forms of instant message conversations, take place during synchronous learning sessions.” In our article, Sharon and I shared a variety of backchannel uses that teachers in North America reported. It’s a great start to get some ideas on how you could use this engaging activity.

Many of us have participated in backchannels. We’ve typed our messages in the chat room during a synchronous Elluminate session or used our phones to chat during a conference presentation. As we’ve found, backchanneling is an excellent way to engage students in the conversation, check for understanding, and provide a venue for questions and brainstorming. Here are some tools to use for backchanneling.

Skype – One of my favorites. Can be used in tandem with any presentation tool. Create a group session by pulling everyone into the conversation, and then you’ll be able to archive the chat. Download the app for your smart phone.

Chatzy – This tool has been around for quite a while and works great. Easy to set up a room and invite participants. Use a browser to access on your smart phone.

TodaysMeet – Very simple with a clean interface. It’s easy to set up a session – name the room, decide how long to save the data, and share the link with attendees. You can also create a Twitter hashtag – posts will be pulled into the room. Works on smart phones through a browser.

GoogleDocs – Now that Google has brought back the chat feature, you can have your students posting reflections, questions, and responses in the chat during a presentation or collaborative session. If you want to use a Google tool for cellphone backchannel, download Google Talk.

HootCourse – Categorizes messages, separates questions. Log in with Twitter or Facebook, give participants a tag to use, and HootCourse will pull them into your HootCourse channel. Access through a browser window on your smart phone.

Twitter – Excellent tool for short messages (140 characters), but very public. Works on computers and smart phones. There are a variety of apps for cellphones.

NeatChat – Very simple to create: name it and send out the URL. The website also provides instructions to enable the chat in Facebook. This would work great if you’re using Facebook for your course website. It works on my smart phone – fairly good interface.

Important Note

Some of the tools above will archive the chat, others will not. Make sure to download the chat archive or copy the text and paste it into a document. You could even post it in a Google Doc and have students continue the conversation – or you could address some of the questions that weren’t answered during the session.

Please leave a comment sharing your ideas and experiences.


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