To "backchannel" is to carry on a real-time online conversation while a group activity or presentation is going on. Here are some examples of when students might use a backchannel to ask questions, comment, or identify the key points:
  • When the teacher or other students are presenting information
  • During a video or film
  • While an inner circle Socratic seminar is going on, the outer circle can participate in a backchannel.

In addition to discussion during a live activity or event, a backchannel can also be used for:
  • offering suggestions
  • sharing resources
  • taking notes

There are many different tools that can be used as a backchannel, TodaysMeet, Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, Instant Messaging and Google Moderator.

Today's Meet
TodaysMeet is a simple, free online tool you can use as a backchannel in your classroom.
  1. Go to the website:
  2. Name your "room" ("Room" is a reference to a "chatroom," an online place where discussions happen.)
  3. Choose how long the room will be active and available. The choices in the pull down menu are 2 hrs, 8 hrs, 12 hrs, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year.
  4. Click on the Create your Room button.
  5. Tell your students the url (web address) and have them go to the site. Once there they will enter their name in the box.
    1. If you have a particular way you want them to identify themselves, please be clear about this before they get to the site
  6. When they have a comment or question, they write it in the "Say" box.
    1. It is a good idea to review online etiquette prior to using a backchannel
  7. If you want to save all the comments from a TodaysMeet session, click on the "Transcript" button below the list of messages and then save the page by either:
    1. selecting the whole room (click and drag or use Control-A (PC) or Command-A (Mac), copy it and paste it into a Word doc.
    2. use "Save Page" in the file menu of your browser
    3. some computers can "print" the page as a PDF