doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Whatever happened to …


Peter McAsh is on a roll this week with this being his second suggestion for a blog post. Thanks, bud.

For me, backchanneling is one of the very best uses of social media.

It’s a simple concept – a conference or a speaker or just a few friends agree that they’ll use a hashtag – we primarily used Twitter and share our thoughts about the message being delivered as a speaker delivers it.

Gone are the days of sitting through an entire session and the speaker asks

Are there any questions?

And, as you flip through your notes looking for something that you wanted to ask, the speaker is thanked by someone, given their gift, and then escorted from the stage.

By backchanneling, you can immediately share your thoughts and questions and allow others to take them and elaborate. It gives you a bigger payoff for the price of attendance.

For those who were not able to attend in person, they have the opportunity to at least follow the discussion and maybe even join in.

A good speaker/organizer will encourage it and use them as a way to consolidate the learning at the end rather than “are there any questions?”

Peter and I actually did this recently – I had intended to attend the Annual General Meeting for ECOO but had to get an oil change for my car instead. He nicely backchanneled his interpretation of what was going on and I got caught up on this later.

If you want to see backchanneling in action, here’s the discussion hashtagged from the Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee’s Symposium 2010. Doug Sadler and I co-chaired this with Ian Jukes and Angela Maiers as our keynote speakers. We used the format of a morning keynote and an afternoon keynote. We also asked the keynote speakers to also do a breakout session called “A conversation with …” and the backchanneling was helpful to support that conversation.

I used this blog post to check out the presenter gifts. We had an artisan in Wiarton make original content and they were stamped with our seal. You can see what was given this year at the link in Urs Bill’s tweet.

You can read/reread the entire backchannel here.

It works well and others would like to have the same success.

For a Sunday, what are your throughs?

  • Why don’t we see backchanneling used as much these days?
  • When was the last time you saw a backchannel seriously in action?
  • If you’ve backchanneled a message, what tool did you use?
  • Have you ever gone back and reviewed a hashtag from a conference you once attended or wish you had attended?
  • Do you see any way that backchanneling could be used for bad instead of good?
  • Of course, you can backchannel a traditional conference but where else could you use this technique?
  • When will we see the return of the face-to-face learning conference?

I’d be interested in your comments on this. Please channel them to me in the comments below.

This is a regular Sunday morning post around here. You can check them all out here.


5 responses to “Whatever happened to …”

  1. This post took me back to when I taught Gr. 6. We often had backchannels for class discussions and class radio shows. Today’s Meet was a favourite option. The best thing about this is that I taught a student who was a selective mute and never spoke in class, but she was the leader in these virtual discussions. Backchannelling totally changed the oral experience for her. Years later, I saw her in high school when I brought my kindergarteners to a play there. She spoke to all of us at the time (very special), but also thanked me for these backchannels and how it changed the school experience for her. A definite highlight of my career! (I would have blogged about it, but too many people from back then read my posts & would have known who I was discussing, so I never did.)


    Liked by 1 person

  2. That’s a wise move. As educators, we are well aware about the issues of student privacy. As a blogger, we want to do the best that we can and, at times, have to blur the facts or use other names for that purpose. It must have done your heart proud to have that student discussion things at your secondary school visit.


  3. It did indeed, Doug! (I should clarify that I know that I could share this here because nobody who could figure it out, follows me in a social media space.)



  4. […] Whatever happened to … – doug — off the record […]


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