TodaysMeet.com is a completely free service for hosting backchannel discussions. Over the years I’ve used it in a variety of ways including as a real-time discussion during a classroom viewing of a video, as a tool for quickly polling my students, and as forum for students to anonymously ask questions.
Using TodaysMeet to support lectures:
What I’ve done in the past is post my slideshows (which are basically lecture outlines) on the classroom blog two days prior to discussing that content in class. Then in class we discuss the content of the slideshows and I add “spice” to the slideshow content. While this discussion is going on, my students write questions and comments as they pop into their heads. This enables more students to ask more questions and share more comments than if they all had to raise their hands and wait to be called upon to speak.
Using TodaysMeet while watching videos in the classroom:
Using TodaysMeet for back-channeling while showing a video is a great way to handle clarifying questions and comments in real-time. Prior to using backchannels when I showed a video I would stop it at various intervals to discuss the students’ reactions and questions. Now when I show a video in a classroom, I set-up a backchannel using TodaysMeet. The back-channel allows students to record their reactions to what they see while at the same time I am able to answer questions that arise as they watch the video.
Using TodaysMeet to collect anonymously questions and comments:
TodaysMeet does not have an option for requiring users to log-in with an email address. This is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it means that your students don’t have to remember a username and password to use the service. It’s a curse because students can use any alias they like when they join your TodaysMeet room. If you want your students to use aliases in your TodaysMeet room, ask them to right them down for you so that you can determine who is who if you have to step into a conversation that goes awry.