At the end of last month, longtime backchannel TodaysMeet announced that the program will no longer be available on June 16th. TodaysMeet allows a user to create a private chat and invite other users. The ease of use for students made it a popular tool. The announcement came as a surprise to teachers since the website was used as a way to extend class conversations for students and even for teachers to continue discussions after professional development. Now, in losing a favorite tool, teachers are looking for alternatives to TodaysMeet. The following are three tools that can attempt to replace the hole TodaysMeet is leaving behind.
Go Soap Box
Go Soap Box offers a variety of discussion options for teachers to create in the classroom. After creating a teacher account, an event must be created. Events house all discussions and questions posted by the teacher and students can join using an event code, as opposed to using their email.
Within an event, teachers can create a quiz, a poll, or a discussion question. The quizzes allow for multiple choice or open-ended responses. Polls with teacher-generated answer choices can be shared with students with the option to view the results in a bar graph or pie chart. Teachers can opt to allow students to see the results of the poll once their response is submitted, as well. Similarly, discussion posts can be created with the option to make student responses accessible to their peers. There is also a Social Q&A section, where students can ask questions. One of the most interesting features is the “Confusion Barometer” where students can anonymously indicate whether or not they are confused.
When these tasks are initially created, they are locked by default. To unlock it so students can access the activity once they sign in with the code, teachers must click the padlock in order to unlock it. Through the “Moderate this Event” tab, teachers can control what activities are enabled for their students. Profanity blockers and name requirements can also be enabled in this area.
Similar Feature to TodaysMeet: The discussion part of the tool allows students to continue discussions after class with no email login required. Since a code is required for access, it is still private for classrooms.
Backchannel Chat is a website designed for teachers in order to increase discussion outside of the classroom. While there are paid versions available, the free version puts a cap on the number of students able to interact at one time: thirty. Students do not need to sign in with an email account. They receive a code to a private discussion channel. The teacher maintains control over the classroom discussions, with the option to remove inappropriate messages and a profanity blocker. Through the settings tab, teachers can opt to moderate every post that is made on the channel, as well.
Once students enter the conversation, their chosen names appear on the sidebar. The settings icon next to their name allows the teacher to place the student in “read-only” mode if needed. If placed in this mode, students can only read the messages but cannot write a response. The “X” in the right corner of a post allows the teacher to remove the post from the channel. Students can “like” each other’s responses and teachers can pin insightful or important posts to the top of the discussion.
Similar Feature to TodaysMeet: Backchannel Chat allows teachers to create a private place for students to discuss their ideas following an in-person session. A code is provided to ensure no email logins will be used.
For teachers in classrooms without access to school-issued devices for every student, Class Pager incorporates personal student devices. Teachers create an account for their classes and provide their students with a phone number and a code to text to that number. Aiming for middle or high school, students would use their own devices to text responses back and forth to the teacher.
Once the classroom is created, the teacher can see which students have enrolled without having access to their personal phone number. The teacher can generate a question to ask the class or a poll to send. The students would receive the post in a text on their device and be able to respond. Responses are populated on the website for the teacher to view. The teacher could respond directly through the website to address individual concerns. While not ideal for peer-to-peer discussions, the tool does let students continue to ask questions once a face-to-face session has ended.
Similar Feature to TodaysMeet: The concept of being able to ask questions following a class session is fairly similar to TodaysMeet. Students cannot respond back and forth to each other but can still discuss topics of interest or concern with the teacher without needing to be physically present.