It’s been a hard day for me today. I learned that one of my favorite free educational tools is going away. Effective June 16, the backchannel resource TodaysMeet will be gone.
I’ve used TodaysMeet for years and really loved it. It is a very simple tool to use, but one that can make a huge difference in the classroom with students or in a professional development workshop with adult learners. TodaysMeet provides an online backchannel for discussions. Its greatest power lies in allowing those too shy or afraid to join in the conversation and to help everyone reflect and learn together.
Are There Backchannel Replacements for TodaysMeet?
Luckily, there are a few other free tools that can help to fill the void left by TodaysMeet’s ending.
AnswerGarden lets you post a question or topic for discussion. Then, as responses are entered, it shows the most frequent responses, similar to word clouds. You can use either the web version or the iPad app.
Chatzy is not as pretty as other response tools, but it gets the job done. It creates a private chat room that you invite users into via their email. No registration is required.
Padlet is a golden oldie, but it’s still got value. Its look is very familiar to even the youngest of students and it’s definitely simple to use.
Leslie Fisher (@lesliefisher) recommends Slido in this blog post. Slido is a polling tool that can automatically put the results from open-ended questions into a word cloud. It is pretty inexpensive with a teacher plan that is just $75/year for an unlimited number of polls.
Backchannel Chat may be my new favorite. According to its website, it is “a class discussion tool that was designed from the ground up to support teachers.” It includes a profanity filter and doesn’t contain advertising. No student personal information is required. And there is an app available for both Android and iOS. The free version limits you to 30 concurrent students and one room, which is probably enough for most of us. There is also a Classroom version for just $15/year (very reasonable, in my opinion) which includes a few more nice features such as the ability to attach files, 50 concurrent students, and unlimited rooms.
I think I’ll try and use TodaysMeet a few more times before it goes away, just as a farewell. How are you providing the opportunity for student voice in your classroom?
This blog was updated with additional content on May 23, 2018.