Sunday, April 19, 2009

Backchanneling Basics #9 - Backnoise & Chatterous

In past posts, I've covered Chatzy (both free and paid versions), Chatmaker, and Cover It Live. This week I will talk about both Backnoise and Chatterous.

Both services are, like most other chat services reviewed, free to both organizers and users as well as ad-free. In both cases, it is possible to embed the chat rooms on to your own web page, or you can send participants to a specific URL for access. There is no moderation available for the discussion as well; participants can post what they want when they want. Also, it is not required for participants to register to be a part of a chat, which of course makes it a great choice for classroom use but also means students have to be put on an honor system to create a real and appropriate user name for the discussion. Both services are also fairly private and secure for their users. Finally, browser support seems pretty broad for both services.

On the flip side, there are a few subtle differences between the two services. At Backnoise, anyone can start a chat at the drop of a hat; if you want to run a chat via Chatterous, then you have to plan ahead and set up an account with that service. Both services do allow for a record of a chat to be saved (up to 10 KB at Backnoise, unlimited at Chatterous), but there's a unique twist on this over at Backnoise (and unique to only Backnoise from everything I've seen): a feature called Buzzkill. The buzzkill feature gives any chat participant the ability to delete the entire contents of the chat at any point in time. I'm not sure that is a feature we want to be putting in the hands of our students. Finally, Chatterous, unlike Backnoise, does allow for rooms to be password protected if they are set to private, which affords an extra layer of security for teachers looking for that feature.

Next week will round out my survey of possible backchannel services when I take a look at Skype.


John said...

Scott - Thank you so much for this review! I, like you, was named a Keystone Integrator, and I'm trying to use backchanneling in my classroom to ease the research question process.

I saw that you said it was possible to embed BackNoise, but I'm having difficulty figuring it out for myself. I'd like to place it in my wiki so it's a little easier to monitor and save. If you could give me a quick overview, I'd be forever grateful.

John Danchisko
English Teacher
Woodland Hills High School, Pittsburgh

Anonymous said...


One of two things is going on here: Either Backnoise made a change in the way their service is offered since I wrote this post, or I made an error in what was possible when I wrote the post. Not sure which it is. At some point in time, I must have at least thought Backnoise was embeddable.

John said...

I don't know the first thing about html, but through a little hunting I was able to embed it in an iframe. It took a while, but it eventually worked. Now the hard part is getting the kids to try and use it.

WillT said...

Perhaps there's been a change since you first posted, but when using the Chatterous SMS option, which goes through TextMarks, virtually every message includes an ad.