Back-channel Chat in Class

So I have seen others running a back-channel chat during conferences and other adult learning contexts and wanted to try it out for myself. Firstly, for those who don’t know, a back-channel chat is when participants of a lecture, lesson, conference, etc make use of an online chat room to have a (relevant) discussion while the learning experience takes place.

I wanted to see how this would work for kids to increase attention and learning when watching a video about Martin Luther King Jnr, related to our unit of inquiry focussed on leadership. The movie was ‘Our Friend, Martin’.

To host the chat I made use of Etherpad using 1 computer between 2 students. The free version only allows 8 editors at one time, so keep this in mind if you plan to make use of it. This ratio worked well with me though. Having every student in the class adding thoughts at one time may have been too overwhelming… we collected 16 pages of dialogue as it was!

Without question, this back-channel chat added value to the video. I think the best way to demonstrate this is to show you some of what the kids wrote. I have loosely categorised the comments to help make reading a little easier.


You may also like to read @klandmiles blog on ’10 reasons to try back-channel chat’.


Parul and Kelly *—–* (13:38): does Indian count as balck ppl too?


Lily & Joon Woo (13:38): white ppl are more colored that black. cuz white ppl get red when they r hot or burnt, but black ppl stay the same and smae with plaeness


Elaine (13:38): theres a book that judy blume wrote that tlls the whole story


Lauriane and Niki (13:51): yay martin go martin show em what you’ve got

Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (13:51): thats scaryy

Mr Grundy (13:51): the kids were protesting and the police used the firehoses to get rid of them

Lauriane and Niki (13:52): so luckyits changed

Lily & Joon Woo (13:52): why is white people hate black people it same people but diffrent skin color

Lily & Joon Woo (13:52): WE ARE ALL HUMANS!!

Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (13:52): XACTLY!

Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (13:52): so true

Lauriane and Niki (13:53): and who cares about the colour of our skin


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:03): i dont get it how come white ppl r so… bla bla with black ppl?

Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:04): the inside is da same juz different skin color


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:07): white only? that sooo dosnt make sence… 😛

Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:07): its not like they hav germs or somethin…

Parul and Kelly *—–* (14:07): they stil have schools for white and black

Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:07): that is baddddddddddddddddddddd

Elaine (14:07): Martin didn’t make the speech yet so racisim still exists

Lily & Joon Woo (14:07): they r wearing such weird clohtes

Lauriane and Niki (14:08): they took MLK jr. in time so he wasn’t there to stop the racism

Lily & Joon Woo (14:08): i said that. 🙂

Parul and Kelly *—–* (14:08): wat abt asians? like japanese ppl?will they be treated unfairly too?


Lauriane and Niki (13:38): this is betta than watching the movie and ask da q after


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:18): u rok mr g

Lauriane and Niki (14:18): YOU R A GREAT LEADER MR. G!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Lily & Joon Woo (14:18): this movie long but doesnt feels like it!!! =)


Parul and Kelly *—–* (14:19): luv the discussing idea Mr G!


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:20): this was a really great… “movie”


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (13:43): AHHHHHH! Now I know what this movie’s about. It’s about MLK’s life. Since MLK is a leader. Right Mr.Grundy?


Lauriane and Niki (13:47): imagine us beig colored at the timee! ide be crying


Ko and Keisuke (14:08): Yep… they went to far in the future because in this time MLK is dead. So he can’t save the African Amerian’s


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:12): we all hav a destiny in life… WOW


Lauriane and Niki (14:19): no theyre aknologing the different nations we have


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:19): i think pp look up 2 him, cuz i do


Lauriane and Niki (14:21): AL of us can be great leaders one day


Lauriane and Niki (13:44): go indians!!!!

Lily & Joon Woo (13:44): go indians??

Lily & Joon Woo (13:44): they r not indiads

Lily & Joon Woo (13:44): they r african americans


Lauriane and Niki (13:45): gandhi gave india independence in 1947 on august 15 i really dont know


Mr Grundy (14:01): slain= murdered


Lauriane and Niki (14:01): what does assainated mean

Lily & Joon Woo (14:01): it means killed


Parul and Kelly *—–* (13:59): great speech!

Parul and Kelly *—–* (13:59): can get his thoughts to ppl easily and touchyly


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (13:59): what if there were purple ppl? will there be racism too?


Elaine (14:15): one of my friends in NZ has a news article copy

Mr Grundy (14:15): see if you can get a copy elaine

Lauriane and Niki (14:16): that would be cool

Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:16): or foto copy

Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:16): it


Lauriane and Niki (14:03): Mr. g can we learn about MLK jr -niki

Lauriane and Niki (14:03): Mr. g can we learn about MLK jr’s idol gandhi

Lauriane and Niki (14:19): i really hope we can learn about gandhi mr. g


Sophie! & Aadrianne! 😀 (14:09): but wat can WE do about it?!!!


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