By Teachers, For Teachers
As of June 16, 2018, Today's Meet is closed (read the full details here). That iconic technology in the classroom backchannel chat platform for classroom teachers and learners, the one that for ten years was the first name thought of when discussing feedback and collaboration, one that quickly became a staple in classrooms and conferences. I went to my PLN for thoughts on what they'll use instead. It turns out, there are good technology in the classroom options, depending upon whether you primarily use Today's Meet for:
Here are some webtool technology in the classroom replacements you can use for summer or fall classes:
A backchannel is a way for students to chat about lesson material while it's being taught. It occurs in real time, but is non-intrusive to classwork. The teacher can throw a question out to students and evaluate learning or needs based on answers. Or, students can pose a question and get answers from classmates. Here are three options you will like:
Socrative is one of the most well-known and widely used student response systems and for good reason. It is a robust, intuitive tool that makes forms and surveys easy to create for teachers and a snap to join for students (for example, no login required — just a class code). Questions can be prepared in advance or posed on the fly in a variety of formats such as True/False, Multiple Choice, and Space Race. Answers can be displayed on the screen anonymously.
In the hands of students, Twitter is commonly viewed as a gossipy distraction that takes students away from the important work done at class and home. But more and more teachers are recognizing its value as an easy-to-use and quick-to-set-up backchannel and student response system. Students sign into personal accounts (when age-appropriate) or a class Twitter account. Using a unique #hashtag, they post comments, responses, and questions related to classwork. Teachers can project the stream onto the class screen for everyone to see.
Twitter can also be used as a poll or a warmup/exit ticket.
Polls, forms, and surveys are great options when teachers need to create sign-up sheets, push out formative assessments, auto-grade quizzes, and more. Today's Meet made it part of an easy-to-access classroom ecosystem that could be quickly shared (anonymously) with all students and intuitively used. In its place, most teachers will first think of Google Forms because of the breadth of Google's penetration into the education market (last year, G Suite for Education had more than 70 million users and more than half of the primary/secondary school market), but there are other options that offer more choices, in different ways, and might be the perfect solution for your class.
For many, JotForm is the essential forms creation tool whether on PCs, Macs, or mobile devices. It offers what could be an endless supply of professional-looking templates that can be used to sign up volunteers, get feedback on events, enroll people into classes, ask for donations, collect payments, and much more. Its drag-and-drop interface makes building forms intuitive, quick, and easy. As with Google Forms, new questions can be dependent upon the user’s response to prior questions. Completed forms are shared via a link, social media, or integrated into DropBox, Google Docs, and other popular platforms.
Pear Deck is an interactive slidedeck that integrates polls, surveys, and quizzes into lesson planning seamlessly, painlessly, and intuitively. Teachers sign in with their Google or Google classroom account, the latter giving them the ability to import the class roster. Students join the presentation with a teacher-provided class code. Once in, students see the same slides the teacher displays on the class screen, including interactive assessments pushed out as multiple choice, drag-and-drop quizzes, short answer, or a drawing. From their dashboard, teachers can monitor who responds and how, display results anonymously on the class screen, and analyze data.
Pear Deck can also be used as a warmup/exit ticket or a backchannel.
Survey Monkey includes most of the characteristics teachers like in polls and surveys with the addition of a wide variety of education-themed templates such as course feedback, project research, parent information, parent engagement, and curriculum planning. It works on most platforms and all digital devices. Education discounts are available upon request.
Survey Monkey can also be used as a warmup/exit ticket.
Warmups are 3-5-minute unassisted class starters to assess what students know about a topic or remember from a previous class. Teachers can then review or reteach as needed. Students are expected to complete these by themselves -- with no collaboration. Exit tickets are quite similar but act more as formative assessments to measure knowledge gained from the class as a last step before they leave.
Here are popular options:
Tozzl.com is a digital pinboard where students answer questions or share ideas that can be viewed by all classmates. It includes optional sections for chatting, file sharing, to-do lists, and videos. The teacher posts a question on the class Tozzl that can include a video, an image, text, or other forms of media. Students join the Tozzl (no registration required) via a link or room number and add their thoughts. It can be private or public.
It can also be used as a backchannel or a warmup/exit ticket.
Flippity is an add-on to Google Sheets that appends a ton of functionality to what is typically considered a data-intensive environment. Because teachers are familiar with Google Sheets (if you're one of the millions of Google schools), it is easy to create warmups and exit tickets using Flippity templates like a quiz show, flashcards, crossword puzzle, hangman, memory game, word search, and more.
No registration is required, but students must have a Google account to use it.
Flipgrid poses questions which students answer in a (very) short video format. All class answers are collected into a grid that can be shared and viewed. The class is easy for a teacher to set up. Students enter with a code (no registration required) and add their answer with the digital device camera. They love the video format and can redo any video they aren't happy with.
Flipgrid can also be used as a poll.
Today's Meet will be missed, but with a touch of creativity and flexibility, you can accomplish the same goals and more by using any number of these stellar tools.
Wikispaces (replacement options coming soon)
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 25 years. She is the editor/author of more than 100 ed-tech resources, including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in ed-tech, Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on ed-tech topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.