Showing posts with label Discussion Forum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Discussion Forum. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

How to Create a Backchannel on Padlet

Padlet is one of the most versatile tech tools that a teacher can have in his or her toolbox. From making KWL charts to exit tickets to simply posting ideas in a shared online space, Padlet can be used in nearly every grade level and subject area. And your notes aren't limited to just text on Padlet walls. In fact, there are ten types of notes that you can add to Padlet walls including screencasts, audio notes, and even maps.

Recently, I noticed that Padlet has a new wall template designed for hosting backchannel chats. In the following video I demonstrate how to create a backchannel on Padlet.

Applications for Education
When you use the backchannel template on Padlet you and your students can still add all of the note formats that Padlet offers. That means that you could post a picture or video as a discussion prompt.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Yo Teach! - A Great Alternative to TodaysMeet

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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Finally! TodaysMeet Now Offers Chat Moderation for Teachers

Yesterday, I shared the news that TodaysMeet now offers the option to create accounts and close TodaysMeet discussions early. Today, TodaysMeet added the option to moderate comments in a discussion.

To moderate comments in your TodaysMeet room simply place your cursor over the lower-right corner of the box in which an inappropriate comment was written. When place your cursor over that corner a "delete" link will appear. Click delete and the comment is gone.

Applications for Education
The ability to moderate comments has long been the feature that teachers have wanted to see in TodaysMeet. The moderation feature along with the new options for creating accounts and closing discussions early make TodaysMeet a better option than ever for hosting classroom backchannel discussions.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have used TodaysMeet to provide my students with a place to ask questions throughout the day. By using a backchannel tool like TodaysMeet my students who have a lot to say don't dominate the classroom conversation. At the same time my shy students are given a place to comfortably ask questions.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CK-12 Adds Group Q&A Options

CK-12 recently added a new Q&A feature that you can use in your class groups. The new feature allows you to post questions and answer questions about the content of your shared CK-12 materials. This feature can be used by students to ask questions of you and their classmates. Classmates as well as the teacher can reply to questions and comments posted in the group. Group Q&A essentially creates a message board within your group. Watch the video below to learn how to use the new CK-12 Groups Q&A feature.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Use Studeous to Create a Discussion Forum for Your Class

Studeous is a new service that teachers can use to create online discussion forums for their courses. In your Studeous account you can create a discussion forum for each of the courses that you teach. In addition to using Studeous as a discussion forum you can create an announcements page. If you upgrade to a paid account you can post files and images too (the free version limits you to two files). Students can join your forum by entering the access code for your course or you can send them invitations via email.

Applications for Education
Studeous is not as robust as some similar services like Edmodo. That said, if you're looking for a quick and easy way to create a discussion forum for your courses Studeous might be for you.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Using the Swabr Microblogging Platform in Schools

Back in January I wrote a short review of a new microblogging platform called Swabr. Swabr allows you to create your own private microblogging system that only people you authorize can join. Think of it like Twitter except closed off to everyone except those people you really want to interact with.

Back in January I suggested some ways that Swabr could be used in schools. This morning I learned through a Swabr blog post that there are schools now using Swabr as, in Swabr's words, bulletin board 2.0.

Applications for Education
Beyond using Swabr as bulletin board 2.0, it could be used by instructors to create discussion groups and study groups.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

City Data - Statistics and Discussions About Cities

This morning I came across a resource that I wrote about a few years ago, but hadn't spent much time with since. Therefore, I've updated the post a little bit to bring new attention to it.  

City Data is a free directory of statistics about US Cities. The type of data sets that you will find on City Data includes all the typical information you'd expect to find like housing prices, demographic data, and job data. City Data also provides information about things like cell phone coverage, quality and availability of public transportation, and air quality. The data is arranged in list form, in graph, and chart form.

Beyond the statistics available on City Data, all of which you could find on other websites, there is a great discussion board. The discussion board is the place to go for questions and answers that reveal more about a place than a simple data table can offer. The discussion forum is arranged by state and major metropolitan areas. I spent quite a bit of time in the discussion forums and most seem to be very active and current.

Applications for Education
City Data could be used by students for an assignment in which they compare the costs of living in various US cities. You could use City Data to customize this lesson plan to accurately reflect your part of the country.

The City Data discussion forums could be useful for high school students considering going to college in an area far from home. Even without posting questions in the forum, students and their parents could get a sense of what to expect in a new place.

Thursday, March 3, 2011 - Build Your Own Discussion Forum

There are plenty of services on the web that you can use to create your own private or public discussion forum (click here or here for some I've previously reviewed). But takes the prize for easiest name and url to remember. Not only is the name easy to remember, it's easy to create your forum with

Once you've registered on creating your forum is a straight-forward, two minute process. To create a forum just sign-in and click "start a forum." From there you can start a conversation, which calls "Gabs." You can also post events, pages, and files. In your forum management tab you can choose to make your forum private or public. Also in the management tab is the option to grab an embed code to place your forum's gab stream in your website or blog.

Applications for Education could be useful for creating online book clubs for your school, providing a public place for parents to interact with administration, or for a student council to interact with its constituents.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Collaborize Classroom - An Online Learning Platform

Collaborize Classroom is a free service that host websites for teachers. The fundamental purpose of Collaborize Classroom is to provide a discussion forum for teachers and students. On Collaborize Classroom teachers can post assignments, notes, and media for students. Students can reply to the teacher and to each other. To help teachers keep track of student use of their sites, Collaborize Classroom provides teachers participation and activity reports about each registered user of their sites.

Applications for Education
Collaborize Classroom doesn't offer a lot of options in the aesthetics department, but it makes up for it by offering an easy-to-use service for teachers and students. The participation and activity reports could prove to be very helpful and time-saving for teachers.

Thursday, April 22, 2010 - Quickly Add a Forum to Your Blog

Earlier this week I presented Lefora as a free alternative to Ning for creating your own social network. Lefora allows anyone to create a free message board forum complete with social networking profiles. Yesterday, the folks behind Lefora launched allows you to create a discussion forum and embed it into your blog or website in seconds.

To add a discussion forum to your blog or website simply go to, copy the embed code and paste it into the code of your blog or website. You do not have to create an account to use nor do visitors to your embedded forum have to create a account. Users of login using their Facebook, Google, Yahoo, or Twitter accounts.

Applications for Education provides a great way to add a discussion forum to your classroom blog or website. Use to provide your students with a place to ask you questions. Or use as a place for students to ask each other homework help questions, essentially turning your forum into a student-run homework help center.

If you're using Blogger to host your classroom blog, the easiest way to embed a forum is to add a new page and embed the code into that page. That way your forum stands alone as an element of your blog.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lefora - Create a Free Message Board Forum

Last week's announcement from Ning that they're discontinuing their free service has some educators looking for alternative ways to host message boards and social networks. Lefora, a free message board service that I first explored in 2007, is one alternative to Ning worth considering.

Lefora allows anyone to create a public or private message board in three easy steps. To create a message board hosted by Lefora, click "create a forum," create a user name, then select the layout of your forum. Your forum will be hosted as a subdomain of Users of your forum can create profiles complete with avatars, biographies, and links to their blogs or other social networking profiles.

Applications for Education
Lefora could be used by PTAs to create discussion forums for parents. Lefora could also be used by teachers to create message boards to extend discussions beyond classroom hours.

Here are four other Ning alternatives you may want to explore.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Youth Noise - Find, Explore, and Network a Cause

Youth Noise is a nice web 2.0 resource for high school students to explore charitable causes and lend support to causes. Youth Noise allows users to create profiles, find information about current world events, and voice opinions on current issues. Some of the causes student can explore and support include animal rights, education, government, tolerance, and poverty.

Learn more about Youth Noise in the short video below.

Application for Education
Youth Noise uses elements of social networking to introduce students to social and political expression.
Youth Noise hosts discussion forums and debates through which students can participate in discussion with their peers. These forums could be a good way for students to share ideas about how to act locally to address the global issues that matter to them. For example, two years ago I had a student that was very passionate about animal rights issues. For her senior community service project she tried to raise money for a local animal shelter, she could have joined the Youth Noise forums to talk with other teens about ideas for raising moeny for animal shelters.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Zoho Launches Discussion Board Service

On Sunday I posted that Zoho was poised to announce a new service this week. Today, Zoho announced the launch of Zoho Discussions. Zoho Discussions is a message board service that you can integrate into the rest of your account. Zoho Discussions allows you to create a message board or discussion forum. The free version of the service allows for the creation of two forums with one moderator. The video below provides a brief overview of Zoho Discussions.

Applications for Education
Zoho Discussions could be a good platform for creating an online discussion forum for your students. You might consider creating two forums, one for students to ask you questions and one for you to pose discussion questions for students to discuss.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Notetaking and Collaborative Research
Zoho Docs - Chat and Edit at the Same Time
Zoho Notebook Adds an Import Option

Monday, June 2, 2008

Short Audio Essays as Writing Prompts

NPR's "This I Believe" segments and WGBH's "Morning Stories" are short, thoughtful, and thought provoking essays covering a wide range of topics. These essays are broadcast over the air at various times (check your local station listings) and are also available as podcasts directly from the NPR and WGBH websites and from iTunes. One "This I Believe" story that grabbed my attention as I was driving to work last week was the story of an attorney given the unenviable task of awarding compensation to the families of 9/11 victims. Listen to the full story, "What Is the Value of a Human Life?" by clicking here.

Applications for Education
Both of these programs are available as podcasts for use in the classroom. The topics of the essays vary greatly so there is bound to be something that every humanities teacher can use as a conversation starter or a writing prompt. Both programs have written transcripts of the audio recordings available on their websites. The transcripts are a good for students to have to refer back to during classroom discussion or as they write responses to the essays.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

DailyLit - Read Books in Chunks via Email or RSS

Daily Lit is a neat service that delivers books in small readable chunks (3-5 minutes to read) to your inbox or RSS reader on a schedule that you choose. There are more than 700 free books available from Daily Lit. In addition to the book offerings, Daily Lit hosts discussion forums categorized by book, author, and genre.

Application for Education
Services like Daily Lit make many books available to students for free. Daily Lit could be used to by teachers to make long or difficult books easier for students to tackle. Teachers could set aside five to ten minutes a day for students to read a portion of a book during class. If your school doesn't have enough copies of a book or any copies of book you'd like students to read, reading it in chunks through Daily Lit is a free solution. The discussion forums on Daily Lit allows students to read what other people around the world think about the books they're reading.
(Note: Daily Lit's terms of service state that users must be 18 or have parent/guardian permission. My guess is this is probably a legality to remove their liability for students reading books someone might someday find objectionable).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Youth Noise - Students Share their Views

Today, I discovered Youth Noise when I was looking for an avenue through which my Social Studies students could express and share their opinions on a variety of public policy issues. Youth Noise is a nice web 2.0 resource for high school students and teachers. Youth Noise allows users to create profiles, find information about current world events, and voice opinions on current issues.

Application for Education
Youth Noise incorporates a model students with which students are already familiar, social networking profile, into a platform for political expression. Students can create videos to speak out on just about any public opinion topic. Youth Noise hosts discussion forums and debates through which students can participate in discussion with their peers.

Popular Posts