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November 15, 2009

The ‘Backchannel’ – A Matter of Perspective

by Peter Skillen

The backchannel refers to the practice of using technologies to carry on a real-time conversation about the presentation currently underway at the front of the classroom.

But, is it really the backchannel? Yes, if you – teacher – consider yourself to be the front channel. 🙂

However, I do believe this to be a matter of perspective. If we consider a student-centred environment, then I would have to say that we educators – and all else – are the backchannel. From the students’ point of view, the student is the front or centre channel.

From a constructivist perspective, the student is the creator of meaning from the various channels available to them. In a collaborative, media-rich classroom, the traditional ‘front’ channel is but one source of information. The student is the centre channel, or perhaps the ‘mixer’ or creator of meaning and artifacts out of the surrounds.


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