Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Classroom Back-channel Gone Wrong

This year I've been experimenting with different ways to use back-channel chats in my classroom. For the most part it's gone very well and my students have benefited from the experience. You can read about those good experiences here and here. Yesterday, I tried to do something new with a back-channel. What I tried did not work and I hope that those of you considering trying to use a back-channel in your classrooms can learn from my mistake.

Yesterday, I had a short (25 minute) video that showed to my students. For some reason I got the idea that I would award a bonus point (added to a quiz I recently gave) to the first student to correctly answer the questions I posted in the back-channel. In hindsight making chat a contest was a very bad idea because most of my students either posted guesses as quickly as they could or they tuned-out because they didn't think they could answer quickly enough. In the end, because of my mistake, my students didn't pay attention to the video as well as they would have otherwise. So while a back-channel can definitely improve the educational value of showing a video in class (case in point here), it must be done correctly.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Back-channeling During a Class Viewing of Glory
Try TodaysMeet for Back-channel Chat Without Distraction
Neat Chat - Quickly Create an Ad-free Chatroom