I attended the NCTIES Conference with Professor Taylor in March, and I had the opportunity to learn about many great technology tools that could potentially be used in a classroom. One of these tools, TodaysMeet, was not even the main focus of the talk; it was merely used to facilitate discussion. However, I was so fascinated by the tool (which is part of a larger concept called backchanneling) that I chose to do some research on it and make it the topic of my own blog post.
In his blog post about TodaysMeet, Greg Swanson talks about the general idea behind backchanneling. A backchannel allows individuals to voice their thoughts, questions, and ideas about a topic into a general, often anonymous, forum. Anyone involved in the discussion, including its facilitator, can see these thoughts and choose to respond to them. Swanson likens it to being able to read the mind of a room full of people when you’re giving a presentation. Backchanneling essentially allows you to see what people are thinking in real time–how cool is that?
TodaysMeet is a type of backchannel that allows you to create a “room,” which you can leave open for any period of time up to one year. Users only have to click on a link, or type it in, and they have access to the room and all of the comments being posted in it. Essentially, one click allows any individual with the link to be a part of the live conversation. Watch the video below to see how easy it is to create and use a TodaysMeet room!
In the presentation I attended, a TodaysMeet room was set up so that those watching the presentation could post questions or comments as the speakers went through their main points. For example, I had a question about Google Chromebooks–so I asked it! During a short break, the speaker went through the TodaysMeet room, found all of our questions, and answered them.
Greg Swanson asks the same question I did about TodaysMeet: How can we use it in a classroom? Swanson has established a system using TodaysMeet in his school, one which is different from the simple brainstorming that the earlier video suggests. In study hall sessions or tutoring classes, there is a computer, a projector, and a TodaysMeet room, accessible across multiple physical classrooms in the school. If students need help in one room, all they have to do is post a question in TodaysMeet.
This is also a great tool, Swanson points out, for students in class who might be too shy to ask questions out loud. If they can post their question anonymously to TodaysMeet, the teacher can see the questions and answer them without embarrassing the student or taking time to call on those with raised hands.
In general, I see a lot of positives associated with TodaysMeet. The fact that students could potentially access a room for an extended period of time means that they could go back before a test and study the questions and comments placed in the room, as a mechanism for review. I also think that it allows teachers and students to feel more comfortable posing awkward or uncomfortable questions about topics that still need to be discussed. I can see some downsides, though. There really is no way to monitor what goes into the TodaysMeet room; if students aren’t mature enough to handle the responsibilities of such a tool, the room could be filled with inappropriate comments that cannot be erased.
What are some positive and/or negative things that you see about this technology? How could you apply it in your subject areas? I’ve created a room for our class to use where you can post your responses (instead of in the comment box–Professor Taylor approves, I promise!). Just make sure you put an easily identifiable name in the “name” box so that Professor Taylor knows that it was you. You can access the room by clicking on the image above.
Here are a few resources to help you learn more about TodaysMeet:
- Learn TodaysMeet in 5 Minutes! – This site has a nice Youtube video tutorial that goes into more detail about the conversational abilities of TodaysMeet. However, it was created at a time when you could add a Twitter hashtag to every TodaysMeet room; this is no longer an option, so just skip over that part!
- TodaysMeet in Middle Grades – This blog by Brad Currie briefly describes how middle school teachers can use TodaysMeet to help their students master concepts. There’s a really cool story about vocabulary in there, so be sure to read it!
- GoSoapBox, an Alternative to TodaysMeet – Check out this tool, which is similar to TodaysMeet. What are some facets that you like better? What do you think could be improved?