#SUNYCIT: Getting Out of Our Comfort Zones… Capitalizing on “the Smartest Person in the Room” Mindset

#SUNYCIT: Getting Out of Our Comfort Zones... Capitalizing on "the smartest person in the room" Mindset

Kathleen Gradel from SUNY Fredonia gave another wonderful presentation. This time, it focused on different ways you could introduce a backchannel into the classroom.

Gradel used a populr.me site as a jumping-off point for her presentation. One of the first activities was using a Todaysmeet.com site to create a backchannel for the workshop. She asked the group for tools that could be used for a backchannel in the classroom.

Here is the list the group provided:

  • Slack
  • iClicker
  • Twitter
  • Google Slides
  • Google Docs
  • Google Forms
  • Adobe Sparks
  • Kahoot
  • Flippity.net
  • Padlet

Backchannel Benefits

Backchannels are a great way to curate resources. They can be used to leverage the knowledge in the room.

Smart Room

Gradel introduced the idea of a smart room. A smart room has three elements: cooperative learning, engagement, and accountability.  She then used the smart room framework to look at different backchannel tools.

Google Slides Q&A

Google has added a feature to the Google Slides presenter mode that will create a link to a Q&A module at the top of each slide. Participants can then go to the link to ask questions. Participants can also up and downvote questions to show how important a question is.

Gradel mentioned that the Google Slides Q&A could be used to check on Muddiest Points. Tips for getting the most out of Google Slides Q&A:

  • Add stopping point in your presentation for Q&A.
  • Award points for great questions.
  • Encourage the voting of questions.


Plickers is another tool that I personally like for assessing the temperature in the room. They are “QR” codes that represent either A, B, C, or D depending upon the orientation. The instructor would then scan the room with a phone app to get results. Questions can be developed on the fly to do quick assessments.


FlipGrid was a new tool for me. FlipGrid participants can leave a video message in response to a prompt.

Other Ideas

Gradel shared a number of other great ideas for creating engaging collaborative assignments in the classroom.

Again, this was a wonderful presentation. Not only do I appreciate the technologies she shares but also how she uses them in the classroom.

If you want to know more about anything I have shared, please contact me or another member of the TEI team.

Other Gradel Presentations

Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.

Stan is Director of Technology-Enhanced Instruction. He has over 20 years experience working as an instructional technologist and trainer. He has a master’s degree in computing technology in education and a doctorate in education specializing in instructional technology.

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