Thing 13 — Backchannels

I attended the session called Backchannels in the Classroom by Scott H. Snyder. He clearly stated that he had been looking for ways to involve the more shy students in his classes in the discussions of the materials that he teaches. One of the ways that he discovered was to create what he refers to as ‘backchannels’ through a computer network so that students can respond in real time to the information that is being explored in class. He points out that the services that are available each have strengths and weaknesses that need to be considered as a teacher chooses which one to use. He is very specific and therefore helpful. Students can be held accountable; students can interact with each other as well as the teacher; students can think more carefully about the things that they want to say. On the negative side, the teacher can find him/herself overwhelmed with trying to present information and moderate the input from students. I look at this method of establishing participation as one more tool that I might use. My use of it would depend on the makeup of the particular class. I found the presentation interesting and well organized. I recommend it to anyone who might be looking for ways to involve more withdrawn students in the class conversations.

3 thoughts on “Thing 13 — Backchannels

  1. Humm… I was thinking the use of a wiki would be an interesting way to engage quieter students. I’ll have to look into this presentation to understand it more. Since I teacher 3rd, I’m not sure how this would work since this age ground can’t really multitask. 🙂


  2. Engaging quieter students is always a challenge. I can see how this would work for shy students who are comfortable w/ technology as a first step in the process of learning to be comfortable with interacting with other people.

  3. Although I enjoyed the presentation, I am not sure how I feel about this method of getting students involved. Other methods exist that do not require technology. For example, some teachers at our school use ‘read, pair, square’ to get everyone into the mix. I have tried to find this method online, but failed. In essence, it is simple: get individuals to read and write about what they have read; pair them up and have them discuss their take on the reading; put them into groups of four (or so) and have them to come up with a final way to present to the class the things that they have figured out. This is my version of the method, and I will find out more about where it comes from if you are interested. Still, the backchannels idea is interesting enough to include in our toolkits, in my opinion.

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