Use a Backchannel in Your Next Presentation/Lecture

By Andreas Skog

I went to the Texas Library Association’s annual conference for the first this year. I attended a bevy of sessions and felt like my head was spinning from all the fantastic information that was entering my limbic system! One valuable gem that I gleaned was from instruction technology specialist Jim Holland. He introduced me to the backchannel TodaysMeet. Once I was exposed to the glory of a backchannel I was shocked that not everyone is using one! Not one other presenter at any conference I have attended has used one. Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself, let me explain what a backchannel is.

Backchannels enable the presenter to use networked computers/smart phones/tablets to ask questions and access session links in real time during a presentation. TodaysMeet is specifically awesome because it is free and does not require the users to login or downlad anything. Sessions are archived anywhere from 2 hours to 1 year after the session. This type of tool is ingrained in the webinar format where users can chat, ask questions, share links, etc but backchannels make it possible to be easily integrated into the physical platform as well.

I used TodaysMeet in one of my information literacy sessions this summer and it went swimmingly. I was able to effortlessly create the channel, share links and respond to questions. What was great about it was that I didn’t have to worry about taking up valuable presentation time to share a link (even if you use a URL shortener it takes time for one to key/type in), students can just click and go (if I had a dime for every time someone asked me to go back to a previous slide so they could write down the link to a certain site I was sharing I’d be a rich gal!) . Also students that didn’t want to ask questions audibly could discreetly type their query. Here’s and example:

session

It is helpful to have a moderator who can blast out the links as you discuss them and ask questions as they are sent, but it’s not imperative. I managed it without a moderator and did fine.

As an attendee I loved how I never missed an important link or had to tediously type a URL. As a presenter I love it because it makes communication a lot more streamlined, allowing me to focus more time on content. I will be using the backchannel in every class and presentation I conduct and I suggest you give it a try! Also if there is a backchannel you recommend please comment below.

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