Backing up with Backchannels

Students need instructor guidance to use virtual platforms for academic purposes. Faculty cannot rely on their students’  “so called” digital native status to know how and what to do with technology. Just a few years ago, no one had heard of “backchanneling”, nowadays, it has become mainstream. 

Students’ desire to participate in the backchannel is increased if they have a sense of community within the channel, which is most easily built through social interactions and shared experiences. Learn the role of the backchannel in a collaborative learning environment.

This topic will be of interest to online and blended learning faculty and educators. Participants will learn about student and faculty benefits from backchannels, ways to use backchannels in the classroom and what tools to use for backchanneling in online and blended classroom.

Speaker Bio


Dr. Julia VanderMolen is an Assistant Professor in the Allied Health Sciences program within the College of Health Professions at Grand Valley State University. Dr. VanderMolen received her Ph.D in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Career and Technical Education from Western Michigan University. She has a M.Ed in Educational Technology from Grand Valley State University, a MA in Health Science from the University of Alabama, and a MS in Biology from Clemson University.

She is a recipient of the 2011 Teaching Excellence Award and 2014 and 2012 Blackboard Exemplary Course Award winner for online teaching in health and science. She has presented at a number of conferences on the topic of educational technology and online learning. She has expertise in online learning and currently provides expertise to numerous organization in the area of health education, health promotion, health literacy, online teaching and learning, and assistive technology.

In addition to advising and mentoring students on various projects, Dr. VanderMolen teaches undergraduate courses in healthcare management and healthcare issues. She teaches Medical Terminology, Introduction to Healthcare, Healthcare Management and Issues in Health Professions. Dr. VanderMolen is currently consulting with the Online Learning Consortium on developing and facilitating best practices in teaching online health and science courses.

Dr. VanderMolen’s research interests include health literacy, community health, health assessment and assistive technology.