Showing posts with label Message Boards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Message Boards. Show all posts

Friday, March 27, 2015

How to Create a Multifaceted Backchannel Through Tozzl

Update: On October 17, 2020 the new owners of the domain tozzl.com threatened to sue me if I didn't take down this post. Needless to say, I don't recommend that anyone go to that site, ever.



A few weeks ago I reviewed a new backchannel/ message board tool called Tozzl. Then two weeks ago I had this horrendous experience with TodaysMeet. As a result I'm switching to using Tozzl for most of my backchannel needs. Tozzl allows me to create sections for chat, file sharing, and YouTube videos within one backchannel. I can also import the feed of a Twitter hashtag into my Tozzl backchannel. In the video embedded below I provide a demonstration of how to create a Tozzl backchannel.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tozzl - Create a Multifaceted Message Board

Update: On October 17, 2020 the new owners of the domain tozzl.com threatened to sue me if I didn't take down this post. Needless to say, I don't recommend that anyone go to that site ever. 

Tozzl, Tozzl, Tozzl!!!


Tozzl  used to be a message board platform.  I learned about this afternoon when its lead developer emailed me. My initial thought was, "I don't know that the world needs another message board tool." But as I explored it a bit I changed my mind.

Tozzl allows you to quickly create private, password-protected message boards as well as public boards. To get started visit Tozzl and select "create a new Tozzl." Then you can name your message board and set a privacy password (optional). Tozzl assigns a new, unique URL to each message board. On your message board you can add sections for chat, file sharing, to-do lists, and YouTube videos. You can also import the feed of a Twitter hashtag. In my demo board available here you will see that I imported #NCTIES15.


Applications for Education
The many facets of Tozzl open it up to a bunch of possible classroom uses. You could use it simply as a backchannel tool in which students ask questions through the course of a lesson. You could have students use it as a project management tool when they're working in groups. Tozzl message boards also have the potential to be used for simply distributing digital handouts and videos to your students.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Build a Message Board With Open Source Forum Software from Vanilla Forums

Vanilla Forums is free, open source software that anyone can use to host an online message board community. As you might imagine message boards powered by Vanilla allow your users to create member profiles, give you administrative control, and the ability to create sub-forums. Vanilla Forums software can be downloaded and installed on your own server(s) or you can use one of the paid hosting packages offered by Vanilla.

Applications for Education
If you have someone in your school that can install Vanilla Forums on a server, Vanilla could be a good way to build a school message board. You could also explore the hosting packages offered by Vanilla to see if they suit your needs.

Other options for hosting message boards to use in your school include Google Groups, Google+ Communities (if everyone is over 13), or Buddy Press (open source and you have to host it).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Piazza - Not Just Another Message Board System

Over the years I've reviewed quite a few services that offer teachers the ability to create private message boards for use in their courses. Here's a handful of those services. Today, I learned about one that tops all of those services.

Piazza is a free service that teachers can use to create message boards for their courses. Piazza message boards offer more than just the standard question and answer format found in the old free Ning packages, but not quite as many features as a paid service like Blackboard. Some of the highlights of Piazza are tracking of student use, options for having multiple instructors and or teaching assistants in each course, and collaborative editing of messages. Piazza also offers the things that you might expect like basic announcement posting.

When students response to a question posted by a teacher they can work with other students to edit that response. So rather than having a bunch of similar responses to sort through students can work together to develop a cohesive response. Teachers can weigh-in directly on each student response with a simple thumbs-up or they can actually comment and edit student responses. And like any good message board system, responses to messages in Piazza can be threaded.

To help instructors keep track of unanswered questions from students, Piazza offers great filtering tools. When they sign into their courses, just like in email, they can click to instantly see the latest unread messages, latest replies, and latest unresolved questions.

Applications for Education
For educators that are looking for a little more than a bare-bones message board system, but don't have the resources for a system like Blackboard, Piazza could be the end of that quest. To help teachers and students stay connected from just about anywhere, Piazza offers free Android and iPhone apps.

I learned about Piazza through Jessica Cam Wong's excellent Make Use Of post about the service. She wrote about it from the perspective of a student. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vanilla Forums - Open Source Forum Software

Vanilla Forums is free, open source software that anyone can use to host an online message board community. As you might imagine message boards powered by Vanilla allow your users to create member profiles, give you administrative control, and the ability to create sub-forums. Vanilla Forums software can be downloaded and installed on your own server(s) or you can use one of the hosting packages offered by Vanilla. The hosting packages range in price from free to $199.

Applications for Education
Since Ning went to a fee-based model, many people have been looking for alternatives. If you have someone in your school that can install Vanilla Forums on a server, Vanilla could be a good way to build a school message board. You could also explore the free hosting package offered by Vanilla to see if that suits your needs.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Ning Ends Free Networks - Try These Alternatives
Lefora - Create a Free Message Board Forum

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 Lefora.com. 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.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Snap Groups - Create Private Message Board Groups

Snap Groups is new service that allows anyone to create private or public message groups. In Snap Groups you can create your own group in which to share short messages with other group members. Groups take just a few seconds to create and are given their own unique urls. Of most value to educators is that Snap Groups can be made completely private and hidden from public view. When you create a group you're given the option to make your group public or private, the option to moderate messages, restrict who can join your group, and restrict who can see your group and its messages.














Thanks to Read Write Web for the lead on Snap Groups.

Applications for Education
Snap Groups could be a good option for hosting a back-channel in your classroom. The advantages of using Snap Groups over some other chat services include being able to make your students' messages completely hidden from public search, no distracting advertising, and your group doesn't ever expire therefore you can keep a record of messages.

Here are some related items that may be of interest to you:
Back-channeling During a Class Viewing of Glory
Try TodaysMeet for Back-channel Chat Without Distraction
Neat Chat - Quickly Create an Ad-free Chatroom

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Friend Feed in Education

Friend Feed is a microblogging platform that for some reason hasn't gained traction in the edublogging community the way that Twitter has. That's a shame because Friend Feed has some great features that make a superior communication tool compared to Twitter. I talked to a few people at NECC about the lack of Friend Feed adoption in the edublogging community. From those conversations it seems that people just aren't aware of what Friend Feed offers.

Here are some of the key features that Friend Feed offers.
1. More than 140 characters. There is a good argument for Twitter's character restriction making you choose your words carefully, but sometimes you just need more room in order to complete a conversation.
2. Commenting and "like" system. Similar to Facebook's commenting and "like" system, Friend Feed's system allows users to comment on any of your posts. This makes it much easier to hold and track a conversation. With real-time updates, whenever someone comments on any of your posts, that post rises back to the top of your stream so that you can see it without having to search for it.
3. Room/ Group creation. Friend Feed allows you to create as many rooms (also referred to as groups) as you like. The purpose of creating a room is to have a place to hold a conversation around a specific topic or event. For example I created a room for NECC 2009. I've also created a room for people to share thoughts and resources about technology in education. Rooms can be private (you control who can join, view, and comment), semi-private (only you can post new items, but anyone can comment), or public (anyone can join, view, and post). Setting up a room is very easy, just go to your homepage select "browse/ edit groups" and create your new group.
4. Embeddable widgets. Friend Feed offers a good selection of widgets that you can embed into your blog or website. You can embed your main Friend Feed stream or you can embed the stream of updates from a group. In the right hand side bar I've embedded the widget for updates from the Free Tech 4 Teachers group. If you're a Friend Feed user, you can go an comment in it right now.

Applications for Education
The option to create a private Friend Feed room could be a great way to create a back channel for your classroom or for any workshops that you may lead. You could also create a private Friend Feed room for your students to use as brainstorming area or a book discussion forum. Because Friend Feed's commenting and "liking" system is similar to Facebook's, most middle school and high school students should quickly figure out how to use it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yazzem - Message Boards Meet Twitter

Yazzem doesn't knock your socks off at first glance, but when you find out that it was developed by two 14 year olds in Michigan, you have to try it. Read the story of Yazzem's developers here.

Yazzem takes the concepts of message boards and blends it with the concepts of Twitter. On Twitter you essentially see a constant stream of messages from all of your network about any possible topic. On Yazzem conversations are held under topic headings. For example, if you want to share a thought about baseball, click the baseball topic and enter your thoughts there. You can start your own topics or join into the conversation on any existing topic.

Applications for Education
Yazzem could be used by a class to provide instant feedback to a teacher. Set up a topic like "ask Mr. Byrne" and students could submit their questions while a conversation is going on in the room. The same idea could be used by students to ask questions from home or anywhere outside of the classroom.