http://neatchat.com/which worked well. There are other similiar tools like http://www.chatzy.com/ and http://stinto.net/. I nearly used http://todaysmeet.com/ as I liked the tidy interface but the 140 character limit meant I shied away from it. Generally, you want the freedom to write more than a few words but todaysmeet and other micro-blogging alternatives still have use as its a good skill to have to articulate your points within this character limit. I've not mentioned edmodo because this is more than a backchannel, its more of a virtual environment where a number of things can occur.Within formal education, you want your own space for the dialogue, a space that a teacher can setup and control. So twitter is probably not the right environment. There are a number of services where you can quickly and easily set up a backchannel and embed or link to within your website/VLE. The only one I've actually used in a real class situation is
But why do this? What are the benefits? Here are some obvious points:
- Question asking/question answering
- Communication amongst students
- Alongside and in reaction to a spoken event, video, image or presentation
In the only session where I setup and managed a backchannel, I found that I would have to manufacture its use. Some valuable ideas were shared which I could then share after the session, however it didn't flow as well as I liked. This might have been due to the room setup and the fact that we were using desktop computers but I wonder what the different would be if I was teaching children rather than adults?