I’m sure that many teachers have already spoken/written about the online platform, TodaysMeet; however, because I’ve finally had the chance to use it (twice), I wanted to share my thoughts on this digital medium and its uses in the classroom.
So what is TodaysMeet?
TodaysMeet is an online discussion board that enables people to create a “room” in which multiple people can have an online discussion. The person who creates the room is then able to determine how long it can be open, and, in addition, they can download a transcript of the conversation before it closes. (With the paid version a transcript can be created even after the room is closed, which might be useful for some teachers.)
I decided to use TodaysMeet for two different discussions in two different classes. The first class was having a discussion on an emotionally-charged topic, feminism, so I decided to make the discussion online in hopes that it would prevent some potential emotional outbursts and encourage quiet students to participate more. The second class is an incredibly quiet class, and I was hoping that an online discussion would encourage my especially quiet students to share their thoughts. While the first class was told they could only discuss online (despite us all being in class), the second class was allowed to discuss online and in-person.
To be frank, neither experience with TodaysMeet was ideal. The first class (a large class of 30) found it difficult to follow the discussion, and the second class had the same students discussing (online and in-person) rather than others joining in. I also found that, perhaps because students were looking at a screen and not each other, students became less aware of their body language. A rolling of the eyes, which might not have happened in a spoken discussion, happened more during the online discussion.
S what’s good and what’s not-so-great about TodaysMeet?
- A transcript is created of the conversation, which can be used as evidence of “speaking” and “listening” skills. Additionally, this transcript can be used as a way to look back and brainstorm strategies for improving student skills, both independently as a teacher and together with the class.
- It allows teachers to see some of the struggles students may have digitally, so we can address what successful and appropriate online communication looks like with our students.
- The creator of the room can delete comments. Although I only had to utilize this a few times, it can be an important tool to have if a student posts something offensive or inappropriate (or in the cases I experienced, something completely irrelevant and derailing).
- For students who are hearing impaired, it can be easier to follow and partake in than a traditional, oral discussion.
- Students are limited to 140 characters, which makes citing the text difficult.
- When students broke up their thoughts to fit the character-maximum, they were often cut off by other students, which led to a difficult-to-follow conversation.
- The conversation lagged at times (perhaps because the school’s internet can be slow), and when the platform caught up, it sometimes seemed like things were out of ordered.
- If you forget to download the transcript before you close the room, it’s gone forever (unless you pay for a subscription).
- Because it’s all typed, and therefore all written language-based, it can be more challenging for ELL students.
Although my experiences weren’t ideal, I’m not giving up on the platform just yet. In the future, I may either do smaller groups for online discussions or have the outer circle of my fishbowl have an online discussion on TodaysMeet based on the inner circle’s spoken discussion. Additionally, I think online discussions, whether supplemental to in-person discussions or not, require some different rules and norms than the more traditional, verbal student-run discussions. Before my next discussion with TodaysMeet, I will definitely more thoroughly discuss digitally-focused discussion norms and rules with my students.