When your students are on a SoapBox that you create, they have a status at all times of either "I am getting it" or "I am confused". If at any point during class they become confused, or need you to slow down, they can indicate so by switching their status to "I am confused". You will see a graph with the number of confused students in real time. The individual student's status is completely anonymous to you and the other students. As the teacher, you can see how many students are confused, just not which exact students.
Wondering what a backchannel is? Backchannels are conversations that take place concurrently with a lecture or presentation, and there are many tools that allow you to create one. SoapBox's "About" explains it best:
[Backchannels] improve interaction between a speaker and an audience. Soapbox provides a platform for audience member input, while letting speakers facilitate discussion, organize feedback, and gauge audience sentiment -- all in real time. With SoapBox, speakers are able to transform traditional lectures into lasting conversations by integrating audience thoughts and opinions, without any interruption.
The confusion barometer is just one of the features of SoapBox and it could be shut-off if you prefer. Other features include polls, discussion boards, and socially ranked question and answer. You are encouraged to watch this quick 2 minute video overview for details.
Highlighted in the video:
- web-based, so no downloads
- no student log-ins; students remain anonymous (note there is a profanity filter)
- lists four core features and how each works
Let's say you decide to try out this tool with your students. Here are the basics to post once you have a SoapBox to share:
- I have created a SoapBox as a way for you to participate in class today. Even after class it will remain open, so if I don't get a question answered or if you think of something later, you can always go back and check to see if it's been answered or add something new.
- Please go to http://gosoapbox.com/
- In the "Join a SoapBox" text box, type in the title (you provide) and click "Join."
- Once you're in, you'll see any polls or discussion for class and a "How to use Soapbox" button that will take you to a Quick Start Guide.
- Do a brief, here's how we will use this demo (You'll get the feel for it once you take the next step.)
How do you get started? It's simple. Since this tool is in beta, you have to "Take a tour and sign up..." which consists of clicking a button, scrolling down the page and entering your email address. Once you hit Request Access, a screen pops up announcing they will get back to you with more instructions. Within minutes you get an email and it's all straightforward from there.
Where in your instruction do you need to facilitate constructive interaction? Here's the tool to do that. How might you use it? Keep in mind, Soapbox is a tool as are the earlier 28 highlighted in this challenge. Any tool is only to be as effective as the individual who is using it. As an alternative post to how or when you might see using this tool in your classroom, you can share some tips you think would be important to maximize the effectiveness of introducing a backchannel to your students.