Summer Infobytes

Boy, we sure tried to stay away all summer, but let’s face it, learning never stops. We have already learned about so many new tools, we simply HAD to share.

Let’s start with the tools we learned about at ISTE:

Backchannels

I really like the idea of using backchannels in the class to increase participation and engagement. I see this as a great option, and I’m hoping that I can find a teacher willing to jump into the pool.  I watched a backchannel in progress and learned about some great tools for this practice:

We used Cover it Live for the demo at ISTE. You can view the example from the class here. What I liked about this tool is that the conversation is moderated. The teacher can moderate or a student can be appointed. This way, inappropriate comments don’t get through. Secondly, the moderator can hold the comments for publishing and not show them until after all students have posted. This way you don’t get 23 “I agree” comments after the first student posts. I checked the pricing page and it appears to be free.

Some others that have been used by other participants in the classroom have been mentioned earlier in this blog, but deserve repeating:

  • Today’s Meet is a free and easy (we’re talking three steps here, folks) option that includes a twitter hashtag, enabling kids to use their phones to tweet comments  the class. Like Senduit, you can choose how long to keep tha classroom active, 1 week to 1 year, so you may need to think about your archiving options.
  • Chatzy is another option. You can create a chat room and invite participants. They can either be invited via email, or log in using the unique URL.
  • Chatterous allows users to participate using the web, im, email or phone. Simply create a room and choose the public or private option and you’re ready to go.

The backchannel in the classroom is a great option. These are a few of the favorites from other teachers, and if done well, you need not have a computer for every child, since they could be using those cell phones for good instead of evil in your class.

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