Backchannel Chat Features - Private Messages

By David - Jan 2013

We’ve released our biggest feature: Private messages between teachers and students.

We have given this a lot of thought and we think we have produced a system that is inline with our goal of making BackChannel Chat the best educational real-time discussion tool.

We didn’t want private messages to be connected to the main discussion area like many other online chat tools. We felt that this was confusing and could lead to the teacher missing messages. But also we never felt comfortable typing something personal in fear that it would accidently broadcast to the whole audience.

So when we came to our private message functionality it was a no brainer that the message window was disconnected to the main one:

The next thing that we wanted was the ability to have multiple open at once. Really the teacher will only want to have one or two open at a time, so we made the private chat window auto populate with the previous private chat history. So a teacher can easily close and reopen the window many times and pick up where they left off.

If the teacher chooses they can allow students to send private messages to teachers. We haven’t enabled student to student messaging just yet, we aren’t sure that this is what our users want (please let us know if this isn’t the case).

For a student to send a private message to a teacher, all they need to do is click on the private message icon that is next to a teachers name. From here the private chat dialog opens and the student can send the message. On the teacher side, as messages come in, the dialog open’s ready for the teacher to respond.

This setting can be turned off at a room level, so if a teacher doesn’t want to be disturbed they can choose to turn it off.

We think this is a powerful feature and really provides the teacher with some great tools. If a student is being troublesome the teacher can mark the student as read only and then undertake a private message explaining the reason why they were removed from the chat.

As always, let us know what you think. Start a free chat room now.

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