Monday, November 21, 2016

Backchanneling in the Classroom

Last week I finally had the chance to use a backchannel chat with my students. ( is the platform we used since it on the list of apps approved by the district.) I showed them a video on how the Sahara Desert formed and I wanted them to have a place where they could post comments and ask questions during the video. Since this was the first time we had ever done this I took some time to explain the purpose of the chat room and laid out some ground rules. I told them we were using a chat so that everyone could have a turn to "talk" and that comments and questions needed to relate directly to the video. Considering this was the first time my students had ever experienced something like this in class it went really well. There was one point where the conversation in the chat turned to how Antarctica is a desert. One of the students said that Antarctica could not be a desert because it was not hot or sandy there. He then asked me to pause the video so we could talk about this. For the next few minutes we had a discussion about what the characteristics of a desert are and how Antarctica is indeed a desert. This conversation probably would not have happened if we had not been using the chat. It would have been an invisible teaching moment that would have slipped under the radar.

One of the reasons this went so well is that I used focus browsing in Hapara. The only site my students could have open was the chat. I was also able to put anyone who was off task in a time out. The could still see the chat, but they could not participate in it. I was not moderating every single post because I thought it was more important for me to be able to ask questions of my students and post answers to their questions as we went alone. 

There are lots of backchannel chat apps out there, but I selected Backchannelchat because it has so many benefits! View this chart to see how Backchannelchat stacks up to its competitors. I also opted to pay a small fee to upgrade because some of the features offered at that level are important to me. I like the idea being able to set the room up so that students will not be able to post unless I'm in there. I also like idea of students being able to share files. I also appreciate having the ability to download the entire transcript of the chat as a PDF. I can also quickly see how many times each student posted. 

My students enjoyed this activity. It allowed students who normally are quiet to have a voice. Backchannel chats are also good for students who are still getting used to keyboarding. I have found when students type with a purpose they are able to do it more quickly and accurately. 

If you would like help setting up backchannelchat in your classroom just let me know. As of right now it is the only chat app we can use here in our district. 

No comments:

Post a Comment