I came across a great article the other day by Royan called: Handhelds in the Classroom: Test-Taking with the BackChannel. The article is about how a teacher made use of a backchannel for his students during an exam.
I also found another great article which links to Royans post called: Back-Channel Chat During Test where another math teacher who first thought that Royan was crazy for allowing it then proceeded to give it some thought and then incorporated the idea into his exam.
Both articles are really well written and they make some really good points, some of which you may or may not agree with like:
Is using the backchannel during a test cheating?
Both teachers were active in the back channeling and could view the types of questions being asked, it actually ended up giving the teacher a lot to reflect on. The questions showed potential gaps in what the teacher had taught.
Judging by the conversation the test probably wasn't a major piece of formal assessment, rather just something that was used as a checkpoint. The students saw the value in the backchannel, with it being a little distracting first then it became easier once they let the information flow.
It did prove to be a little more challenging to the students, since different approaches were discussed, students needed to filter out the good information from the bad.
I'm sure its not something for everyone and it may not be suited for formal testing, but it does give some food for thought, I certainly found it interesting, to be able to peer into the thinking of students as they took the test.
As always, let us know what you think. Start a FREE chat room now.