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A backchannel communication, in an educational context, is a secondary electronic conversation that takes place at or near the same time as a lecture, instructor-led learning activity, or conference session.


Instructors are finding that using a backchannel can increase student engagement because backchannels allow students to engage in a digital conversation alongside the activity. This is beneficial because a backchannel can provide introverted students with a place to ask questions or make comments without speaking up. Additionally, instructors can share supporting resources such as videos, links to websites and photos through a backchannel. Instructors can ask questions and watch the response of students to determine if they really understand the concepts being discussed. Students can search the backchannel for notes and resources without having to scribble personal notes on paper.

Instructors are using web 2.0 tools like Twitter, TodaysMeet, Socrative, and Padlet to facilitate backchannel communications.

If this blog post has piqued your interest, you can find additional information about backchannels at these links:

Photo Credit: Keyboard | CC0

Are you looking for new ways to engage more of your students? Do you want to provide more authentic learning opportunities for your students? Searching for some way to help students write concisely, critically examine arguments, or take notes? One strategy you might consider using is a “backchannel”

Dr. Michelle Rodems, program manager at the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies (SIGS) and at the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning suggests using a “backchannel” to give your students a secondary way to communicate with you or each other.

Want to know more? Read Dr. Rodems' article on "Using a Backchannel to Engage Students."