The backchannel in education

One of the sessions I enjoyed most at the flatclassroom conference, was run by Vicki Davis and involved project based learning for the teachers and students attending the conference. We were placed into small groups of four or five (four was the ideal number) with a student as our project manager. Our student was from Ethiopia and the staff from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and Australia.

Each group’s project was written on a slip of paper placed on the tables. There were 9 topics in all, all web2.0 related and were all tools that might be used in the classroom. See the wiki for further instructions and a complete list of the topics. Within a timeframe of 45 mins or so, our task was to research our topic, briefly explain it, say how it is currently used in education and then elaborate on other potential uses. We then had to choose a spokesperson who would go to  each of the other groups and in 4 mins pitch the topic and ‘sell’ it to the others.

To my surprise, our topic was one that I have thought about using but just have not yet, due to conservatism – backchannelling.  For the entire conference, the back channel chat, ‘chatzy’ had been used where both staff and students who physically and virtually attended the conference. I discovered that even parents of my students, back in Australia, were in the backchannel. So we started our topic with great determination.  However, most of my group had not logged onto the wiki and spent most of the time trying to get access. We then all tried to help each other, explaining how to use a wiki, and then all started editing at once which ended up in a ‘wiki war’. That meant that we lost copious amounts of work. Therefore googling time was limited and we all felt the kind of pressure that students/workers must feel at times as we were just not going to be ready. In desperation, I turned to my wonderful backchannel, my twitter network who immediately gave me some great backchannelling sites. Here they are and thanks to my personal learning network, we were able to throw a 4 minute pitch together, on:-

1.   3 ways in which teachers are currently using backchannels –

  • whilst watchin.g a film, students can start discussions immediately on scenes, reviews etc,
  • whilst listening to a presenter, can post up supporting url’s and
  • general classroom use to post questions on topics not understood for other students or the teacher to answer .

3 future possible applications for using it

  • Collaborate with other schools around the globe – using for asynchronous chatting
  • Create a poem or song together, each school responsible for the alternate lines
  • For quick research and advice from experts

 rashkath @murcha Hi, an example using backchannel 11:34 PM Jan 26th from web

 caroldaunt @murcha try these for Twitter egs in education: & 7:58 PM Jan 26th from web in reply to murcha

lenva @murcha @gkat Use and LOVE for backchannel 7:18 PM Jan 26th from web

Darcy1968 @murcha hope this helps :O) 7:10 PM Jan 26th from twhirl

gkat @murcha backchannel post #FC09 7:06 PM Jan 26th from twhirl

Vicki Davis had used project based learning with all of us,  making those those present experience, firsthand, the benefits of project based learning. Many staff had not heard of many of the web2.0 tools so they quickly learnt from their investigation of the topic and/or from the pitches from the other groups. I, for one have come home determined to trial the backchannel in my classe

Read a great post on the backchannel and another on Uses of Backchanneling

One response to “The backchannel in education

  1. You are such an amazing asset to the conference. You and your students were stellar. Oh PBL has its faults (and our wiki gave us fits – that is for sure) but, what does emerge is a rich learning environment that pushes us to do and be more and that, to me, is where the true learning took place for so many groups.

    Thank you for being part of a grand experiment, which, for the most part, went pretty well! Thank you!

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