Tech Tuesdays

Chat Waterfalls

I wrote a previous post about strategies for using chat in online library instruction. In December, I participated in a professional development workshop at my college and the presenter used what she called a “chat waterfall.” Since then I have been experimenting with this method in library instruction and online meetings.

Victoria Falls waterfall
“The Smoke that Thunders – Victoria Falls” by is marked with CC BY-ND 2.0.

The difference between regular chat and a chat waterfall is that you ask participants to type their responses in the chat, but tell them to wait to press Enter. When you say Go, a flood of responses come in the chat. I have found that there is greater participation in chat with this method as it is less intimidating to send a response when everyone isn’t focused on reading it. Also, as a participant, you don’t need to be concerned with comparing your response with others before you submit. So, there may be multiple responses that are similar, but there is greater participation.

I’ve used the chat waterfall in library instruction to elicit keywords about a topic or to ask students to share research tips or questions. Recently, I used it as an icebreaker at the beginning of a library team meeting.

I adapted some slides with instructions with permission from science teacher, Mari Venturino. Feel free to use the slides as you wish. I’d love to hear how you have used chat waterfalls.