Ira Socol Brings the Backchannel Forward

All I could say is “Oh Yeah!” as I read Ira Socol's reflection on his use of a backchannel in his undergraduate class.

Yes, he was testing Today's Meet, an invention of his son, but his results are very much like what I, and other educators see when the backchannel is put in place.

“Every few minutes I looked up at the screen and checked the conversation, and typically I adjusted the discussion, or picked up on a question being asked there, or commented on an answer or a comment. In a big class it gave me real access to far more students than I can possibly get by watching for raised hands. And it let me – and the class – hear from many who never raise their hands. Honestly, I could even judge, much more clearly than usual, what was connecting and what was missing. As an instructor – I loved it.

Ira's post is right on and I'm going to try out Today's Meet.  Backchannels are a GREAT tool for engaging the meek, timid, or student who is more engaged with their fingers than their mouth.  Whether you use chatzy, or another tool, they are great.

It is also important to point out that archived backchannels give students the ability to take group notes and have the information later.

Inevitably, when using the backchannel in a class or conference, within about 5 minutes, I get the question:

“Is it possible to save this chat?”

Why yes, there is.

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Vicki Davis writes The Cool Cat Teacher Blog for classroom teachers everywhere