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The Backchannel Activity


When students watch a video we know there are all kinds of thoughts going through their heads. It would be great to be able to capture those thoughts.


When we show a video we often ask students to think about certain things as they watch the video. They probably will do this. Then when the video is over and we ask them to share their thoughts, shyness often takes over and we don't get quite the rich body of thoughts out in the open for discussion.


As You Play the Video, Set Up a Backchannel


A backchannel is just a tool that will allow students to express their thoughts as they occur to them while they're watching videos.  There are a few free tools that can do this.  Here we'll recommend one calld Padlet. Padlet is simply an online whiteboard onto which you place "stickies".  




One type of padlet whiteboard is called a "backchannel" Think of it as another form of a "threaded conversation". 








Okay - how's it work?


  1. Open a tab in your browser, go to Padlet and start a new padlet. Use the Backchannel template. Send your students the link to the Padlet.
  2. In another tab in your browser, have the YouTube video "It’s not you. Phones are designed to be addicting." ready to go.
  3. "Pull" the tabs out of the top row of your browser and resize them so that you've got a split screen approach.
  4. Put your questions as the first post in the padlet and let students comment as they watch the video.
  5. When the video is over, go back through the student comments and answers and discuss with the class.

Here's a quick video explaining how to set up the two tabs:



Want to learn more about backchannel discussion techniques or have a question about this? Ask our Faculty Partners! We're here to help you create engaging classes.


The activity was created for the post in our English Blog called, "You're Addicted to Your Smartphone! The Verbal Modality of Video".