Introducing backchannel technology into a large undergraduate course

Posted on May 19th, 2016

A new study from the University of Guelph examines the effectiveness of backchannel technology, which allows students in large lecture courses to communicate with each other and the instructor during class. Traditionally, an instructor presenting in the front of the room can be seen as the “front channel,” where information travels from instructor to learners. However, a backchannel “improves communication by facilitating a new flow of information as the learners, traditionally the receivers of information, become active senders.” The researchers integrated backchannel software into one section of an introductory first-year course on family and couple relationships, while the second section did not have backchannel technology. Both groups were compared using online surveys and semester grades. Results showed that the section using backchannel software had higher class satisfaction, used their mobile devices more for accessing class content, felt more comfortable participating in class discussions, and had a higher grade average.