Since TodaysMeet was shuttered in June I have fielded lots of emails and Tweets from teachers looking for alternatives to it. I have been suggesting Backchannel Chat and GoSoapBox, but as of this morning I have a new alternative to TodaysMeet that I really like. That tool is called Yo Teach!
Yo Teach! was developed by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s Pedagogic and Active Mobile Learning Solutions project as an alternative to TodaysMeet.
Yo Teach! lets you create online backchannel spaces to facilitate discussions. To get started on Yo Teach! simply go to the site and name your room. You can get started by just doing those two steps, but I would recommend taking a another minute to scroll down the Yo Teach! site to activate the admin function, the password function, and to select “avoid search.” The “avoid search” option will hide your room from search results so that people cannot find it without being given its direct URL. The password function lets you set a password that must be entered before students can participate in the chat. The admin features of Yo Teach! let you mute or remove students from a discussion, delete your room, and view statistic about the usage of your room. The admin function that reveals statistics will show the names of participants and how active they have been in your Yo Teach! room.
A student can participate in your Yo Teach! room by going the URL that is assigned to your room, entering the nickname that he/she wants to have displayed, and then entering the password that you have set for your room. (You can also use Yo Teach! without setting a room password). Students can type notes and questions to appear in the chat. But the coolest features of Yo Teach! is the option for students to draw on a whiteboard and have their drawings appear in the chat.
Applications for Education
If you have been looking for an alternative to TodaysMeet and haven’t found one you like, give Yo Teach! a try. The option to have students draw on a whiteboard and insert those drawings into a chat is simply fantastic. In a math class you could have students show their work or highlight a portion of a problem on which they need help. You can also insert a drawing to aid an explanation.
Backchannels, in general, can help you provide a voice for every student in your classroom. You can use a backchannel to have students submit questions, to respond to your questions or their classmates’ questions, or to simply share some observations during a classroom activity.