Backchannels

Back-Channelling is something I have always been intrigued with and have wanted to use in the classroom.  The problem however was finding an activity that would actually be enhanced by the use of this method.  This problem was recently solved in my junior geography class where students were exploring natural environments through the lens of Man Vs Wild. Heres what we did.

  1. Setup a free group for geography in www.edmodo.com
  2. Had my students join the group
  3. Play the Man Vs Wild DVD
  4. Ask open ended questions using the group page on Edmodo while the video was running
  5. Encourage students to explore and utilise online resources and search methods to seek answers and develop their opinions
  6. Reply in Edmodo
The Man Vs Wild episode centred around a trip to Alaska which made it possible for me to ask questions that required research on all things from latitude and longitude, continents, countries, population related to Alaska. In this example the Man Vs Wild video simply became stimulus material for the actual geographical content that students were to learn during the session. See an example of a discussion below.
This process was continued over and over again to frame the learning for the lesson in a way that encouraged 100% engagement. So will I do this again? Absolutely, Backchannel communications allowed for a powerful exploration of content on the fly which made my students race to learn and share their understanding.