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Baumgart, Daniel; Pohl, Alexander; Gehlen-Baum, Vera; Bry, François (2011): Providing guidance on Backstage, a novel digital backchannel for large class teaching.
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Abstract

Many articles in the last couple of years argued that it is necessary to promote the active participation of students in lectures with large audiences. One approach to make students actively participate in a lecture is to use a digital backchannel, i.e. a computer-mediated communication platform that allows students to exchange ideas and opinions, without disrupting the lecturer’s discourse. Though, a digital backchannel, in order to be most helpful for learning, have to address the need for guidance of the users interacting. The article presents Backstage, a digital backchannel for large class lectures, and shows how it provides guidance for its users, i.e. the students but also the lecturer. Structural guidance is provided by aligning the usually incoherent backchannel discourse with the presentation slides that are integrated in the backchannel’s user interface. The alignment is thereby asserted by carefully designed backchannel workflows. The article also discusses the guidance of a student’s substantial involvement in both the frontchannel and the backchannel by means of scripts. Through the interactions of guided individuals a social guidance may emerge, leading to a collectively regulated backchannel.