My first session this morning will be on Backchannel: Let Everyone Speak by Michael Baker, South Side Area School District with Chris Champion and Kristin Hokanson.

Backchannel lets the teacher know the thoughts and ideas of the students in their classes during lectures or presentations.

Establish rules for the backchannel (on the wiki it’s listed in “Structure”), otherwise you’ll have chaos.  You can use anything to conduct the backchannel (Google Docs, Blogs, Wikis, etc.– could even be notecards passed to the front).  Anytime you are letting the audience have a voice you are opening a backchannel.  Live links are important for the continued learning later on. — presenters used Cover It Live. — can put the backchannel into standby mode at any time to get the students back to the presenation.

Having questions given in advance that guide the discussion is a great way to eliminate chaos.  Impt. to have a moderator and that can’t be you because you’re presenting or lecturing.  Could be a student that is the moderator. NOTE: in a large group this can be overwhelming for only one moderator.

This method will not be seamless right away.  Be patient and use it for about 6 months before giving up.


  • Are we encouraging students to not speak up? The group felt like if you begin by allowing students to voice their opinion via backchannel then they, over time, gain the respect of their peers thus encouraging them to speak up later in the session or semester.
  • Are we creating more distraction where the student is more concerned with tweeting or chatting that they aren’t listening to the lecture or presentation?
  • What if you aren’t in a one to one class? Can interface with Twitter so if they have cell phones they can participate.

Ideas for Use:

Having discussion during a video or movie in class?

Using it for a global, collaborative project.

Resources: — Temple University Media Education Lab. — software that creates the backchannel and compiles it. — allows for the presenter to have polls, can embed things like uStream video for remote viewing, add twitter, etc. — free video streaming application (recommended closing down the chat window in ustream so others can’t participate).
username backchannel