Mister Thread is a free service for creating your own backchannel forum. Creating your forum (or thread) can be as simple as naming it and clicking "create the thread." Once you click create Mister Thread assigns your thread a url. Give that url to the people that you want to participate in the conversation. If you want to password protect your thread then choose a password that all visitors to your thread must enter. You can also enter your email address to give yourself the option to destroy your thread.
Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for sharing this good backchannel service.
Applications for EducationAs I mentioned during my Reform Symposium presentation about backchannels in the classroom, student backchanneling solves a few challenges that all teachers face at one time or another. Those challenges are having time to hear every student's question or comment, providing a voice for shy students, and improving the relevance and timeliness of your responses to students and their responses to each other. The recording of my presentation is now available here (clicking the link will open an Elluminate page).
Here are a couple examples of using a backchannel in an elementary school classroom. Here is an example of how I've used backchannels with my high school students.