Class Chats & Backchannels
- Will the conversation be structured or open? Structured prompts and topics can keep content well-organized while having a space for open response can encourage questions across a variety of topics.
- Will student responses be anonymous? Anonymity may promote student participation, especially for quieter students who are feeling less comfortable participating. Responses tied to student identities may be useful for classroom assessments and monitoring participation.
- Can students see and upvote each others’ responses? Some platforms allow for student upvoting so that students’ most pressing questions or ideas rise to the top.
- Would it be helpful to continue the conversation asynchronously? Most discussion tools can also be used asynchronously, which may allow students to submit ideas and questions after class or as a pre-class activity.
- How might others support the conversation? If you teach a large course with teaching fellows or co-instructors, you may consider asking one or more members of your teaching team to moderate the conversation and highlight common or pressing questions for you during class.
- Poll Everywhere - Among its diverse array of poll types, Poll Everywhere includes a “Q&A” activity, which allows students to submit questions or ideas live during class or asynchronously. Poll Everywhere activities can be integrated into slide deck presenters (e.g. Powerpoint, Keynote). Reporting metrics are also available. To request to be added to Yale’s Poll Everywhere license, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ed Discussion - Ed Discussion is a threaded discussion forum that can be used synchronously or asynchronously. Posts may include images, image annotations, videos, equations, runnable code, and more. There are options for posts to be anonymous, endorsed by the instructor, or upvoted by other students. Ed Discussion is available as a Canvas integration at Yale.
- Zoom Chat Channels - In addition to in-meeting chats, Zoom also provides Zoom chat channels within the Zoom desktop client software. You can elect to have a whole class channel and/or channels for smaller groups. Before using Zoom Chat Channels in class, have your students download and install the Zoom Client for Meetings software. Please reach out to the Poorvu Center (email@example.com) for help setting up chat channels for classroom use.
Before inviting your students to participate in a backchannel, be sure to share your expectations or develop expectations with your students about how it will be used. Topics may include appropriate content, frequency and timing of participation, when students can expect a response to their questions, and if students will be able to see and/or upvote each other’s responses.
Breaking Out into Small Groups
Bringing in New Voices
- Assigning students to read an article, book or other work by the visiting expert prior to class
- Asking students to develop questions for the speaker to ask during a Q&A
- Inviting students to help host the guest, by introducing the visitor to the class or moderating the discussion on Zoom.
Poorvu Center staff are available for individual consultations to support your translation of Zoom best practices to in-person instruction. Contact us here.