Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tips for using Today's Meet in the classroom

As more and more iPads are getting deployed to classrooms, teachers are looking for easy ways to get started with their devices. One thing we've discussed in the past is Today's Meet. Basically, Today's Meet is a website that allows you to add to a comment stream. The fancy term is a "backchannel". I got to be at Parkade today with fifth grade classrooms as they got started on this process. Here are some tips to get you started.

Making a Today's Meet board is simple enough. Visit Today's Meet on your favorite browser. You'll be immediately asked to create your board. Now you can sign in and make an account, but that's something I haven't tried yet. You name your board and then assign a duration. If you create an account, you can save your board for up to a year. When you're happy, choose "Open your room".

Board naming tip: Make the name as long as you want. That way it's tougher for a random person to come across it. So if you are making it for your class read aloud, call it MrVillasanasfifthgradereadaloudboard. Or something else. 

Now that the board is open, students are free to comment. All they need to do is add their name and start posting. Simple, except you are probably wondering how to easily get your kids to the board. Well, here are some ideas: 

QR codes: since the board is a website, use a QR code generator (, QR generator, QR stuff are some examples) and post it for students to access with their QR reader apps (QRafter is my favorite). Once they are there, have them save the board to their iPad home screen for easy access later.

Link Shortener: my second choice. Use your account to shorten the link. Because you can sign in with your Google account, your shortened links will be saved for later. Then you can have students type in the address in Safari and then add the link to their home screen. Added bonus: it automatically makes a QR code for you to use as well.

A couple of tips to make the experience more enjoyable for you:

  1. Keep the conversation simple. The younger the students, the simpler you need to be. For elementary students, I would have a single question or response for each board so it's easier for them to remember. You should probably have the question posted in the room as well. 
  2. They are going to play around. Give them a chance to get their fun out in a different setting, such as a community board where they can chat with their friends. 
  3. Create multiple boards for different purposes. It's easy to create and the kids can add all the boards to their devices. They can even make a folder on the iPad just for Today's Meet boards.
Again, Today's Meet is a simple application. You can print an archive of the board, but you can't guarantee that a student is using his or her real name without looking over their shoulders. If you want to get more in-depth with discussion board features, you can use Blackboard. However, if you are looking for simplicity and ease of use, Today's Meet is a great place to start. 

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