Video Back Channels with Google Documents

Google Apps is a great tool for student use. On one hand, it's simpler to use and learn than the Microsoft Office Suite. On the other hand, its collaboration tools are amazing, and almost impossible to mimic with traditional Word or Excel.

One creative way to use Google's sharing capabilities is through what is called a "back channel."  A back channel is, in essence, a secondary conversation that is occurring in the background of a lesson or presentation, usually via some form of computer technology.  For example, many large-audience presentors use a back channel to field questions from a 2000-member audience.


Ms. Google has a great video for her Intro to Law class, the about the OJ Simpson trial (on VHS of course, so she has to go find a VCR).  The video is challenging, and in the past, Ms. Google would often pause the video to make comments or ask questions.  Today, she is using Google Apps as a video "back channel" discussion.
  1. Before class, Ms. Google creates a Google Document called "Video Back Channel" and shares it with her class.  How do I share a document?
  2. During the video, students open the shared document and leave it open on their device while watching the video.
  3. When an important point is mentioned in the video, Ms. Google can type it into the document.  All of her students will see it.
  4. When students have a question about the video, they can type their questions into the document for Ms. Google and the other students to see.  Anything they type should appear in real time on everyone's screen, with the student's name attached.  Ms. Google or the students can type responses right away without interrupting the video.
  5. The document can be saved so that students can use it to study for a video quiz tomorrow. 


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