Managing the digital classroom – Using a backchannel

In my starting fourth dimension post service inwards this serial – Getting students’ attention – I mentioned the role of backchannels. This post service should give yous to a greater extent than information close the role of backchannels inside the classroom.

If yous are working inwards a classroom where your students cause got meshwork connected devices, either through wifi or their mobile phone, using a backchannel tin cause got a transformative affect on the means yous tin role applied scientific discipline with your students.

“Backchannel is the practise of using networked computers to hold a real-time online conversation amongst the primary grouping activity or alive spoken remarks.”

Most backchannels are text based as well as many-to-many, pregnant that anyone tin type inwards a message as well as it is seen yesteryear everyone who has access to the chatroom.

Back channels are peculiarly useful if yous are working inwards a facial expression upwardly to facial expression upwardly surround where all or pairs/groups of students are working at a reckoner or if yous are delivering alive online classes using approximately cast or spider web conferencing or webinar platform.

Backchannels aid to solve a give away of mutual classroom problems


  • I oftentimes depict a backchannel equally the communication that happens betwixt your students inwards the classroom every fourth dimension to plough your dorsum on them. The payoff of using a backchannel tool is that yous tin capture the intercommunication, live on business office of it as well as exceed far a constructive rather than a distracting business office of the class.

Democratisation of learning

  • Backchannels democratise the classroom or lecture room, at to the lowest degree for periods of time, as well as enable everyone to contribute what they know close the signal or theme beingness discussed.

Giving students links to online resources

  • If yous desire students to investigate a website, create an online task, sentinel a video or consummate a digital worksheet, yous exactly role the dorsum channel, glue inwards the link as well as they tin access the materials exactly yesteryear clicking the link as well as opening it inwards a novel tab. This saves a lot of fourth dimension as well as gets students straight to the sites yous desire them to access rather than leaving them struggling to write downward long URLs as well as type them into the browser address bar.

Getting all students to reply to questions

  • You tin type inwards questions as well as acquire students to reply through the backchannel. Using this method all students are able to participate as well as reply to questions rather than the starting fourth dimension i to lay upwardly their hand. This also gives less outspoken students the chance to respond.

Setting as well as reinforcing clear task

  • When yous laid tasks for students to create yous tin dorsum them upwardly yesteryear also typing your instructions into the backchannel. This gives them something to refer dorsum to as well as also helps to reinforce your verbal instructions. This tin cut down wasted fourth dimension going circular the cast helping weaker students acquire on task.


  • You tin acquire students brainstorming ideas, suggestions, vocabulary, opinions or anything else through the dorsum channel. This means everyone’s contribution tin live on collected, shared as well as acknowledged.

Enabling students to portion knowledge

  • Students acquire portion what they know close whatever theme or enquire a interrogation at whatever signal during lesson, fifty-fifty when yous are presenting, without disrupting the stream of the class.

Socialisation with students

  • Students tin socialise as well as yous tin socialise with students inside the dorsum channel. Just spending a few minutes at the start of the lesson quest questions as well as finding out what students are upwardly to tin actually aid to engage with your students.

Developing written fluency

  • Interacting with students inwards a chatroom also gives students an chance to railroad train their written fluency through genuine communication.

Saving notes from the class

  • The script from a backchannel tin live on saved as well as downloaded, thence this is a neat cast of collaborative banking concern notation taking. At the terminate of the cast each educatee tin edit their ain version of the text to ensure they exceed on the parts that they experience are relevant.

Some problems with dorsum channels


  • As ever nosotros should accept our students’ online security real seriously  when using whatever cast of reckoner mediated communication that allows students or others to communicate with our students.  Some dorsum channel tools require registration as well as this adds a greater chemical cistron of security to the platform equally users are to a greater extent than traceable, though educatee registration tin add together an extra layer of fourth dimension administration as well as friction to the setup process.
  • If yous create upwardly one’s hear to role a dorsum channel that doesn’t require registration thence it’s ameliorate to brand certain yous create a novel i each lesson as well as alone exit it alive for alone a brusk time.


  • When yous starting fourth dimension start to role a dorsum channel yous may cause got approximately initial demeanour problems, especially with younger less mature students. Try to rest degree headed when yous bargain with this. As the role of the dorsum channel becomes to a greater extent than mutual house your students volition acquire used to using it inwards a to a greater extent than responsible way, especially if they realise their comments tin live on traced dorsum to them.

Class size

  • If yous cause got actually large classes as well as lots of students are contributing comments it may acquire difficult to exceed on upwardly with all the interaction. Having a to a greater extent than complex backchannel tool similar Backchannel Chat tin aid yous to contend this to a greater extent than effectively.


  • Reading dorsum through the text from a dorsum channel tin seem similar reading through chaos to someone who wasn’t in that place at the time. Backchannel records volition demand to live on edited to live on useful, but  this is a expert review activity for students.

Backchannel tools

Here are a give away of tools yous tin role to create a backchannel inwards your classroom.
TodaysMeet is i of the simplest as well as easiest to role tools, as well as also i that’s costless as well as real reliable. It doesn’t require registration yesteryear yous or the students thence it’s actually quick to prepare as well as acquire students into, but if yous desire that extra security yous tin register for a costless account, which volition also enable yous to salve your chat transcripts.

You tin travel inwards an instance room here:

Backchannel Chat:
Backchannel Chat is a fleck to a greater extent than sophisticated as well as enables students to guide avatars for the chat as well as to a greater extent than importantly it enables yous the instructor to pivot a interrogation or message to the top of the chatroom current thence that it doesn’t disappear equally students respond. There is both a costless version (which is express to xxx students) equally good equally paid versions which cause got larger limits as well as other features similar file adding attachments as well as personalising avatars with students’ ain picture.

You tin travel inwards an instance room here:

Chatzy offers 2 options; Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 quick chat room which yous tin prepare quite speedily as well as exactly (more similar TodaysMeet, or a to a greater extent than complex virtual classroom which yous tin configure to let students to add together diverse types of online media too, such equally images as well as videos.

You tin travel inwards an instance room here:

Find to a greater extent than tools to role inwards the digitally connected classroom yesteryear downloading my ebook – Digital Tools for Teachers

Check it out

I promise yous discovery backchannels useful with your students as well as that they aid yous to integrate applied scientific discipline into your classroom inwards a to a greater extent than meaningful way.

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Nik Peachey