July 2018 Update: Please note that TodaysMeet is no longer available online.
I recently went to an education conference. One of the sessions I attended was a panel discussion regarding BYOD. There were about 100 people in attendance. The presenters used TodaysMeet. TodaysMeet is a web based tool that allows for audience participation. Participants can join the meeting room to ask questions or post comments that appear as a live stream.
How Does it Work?
The presenter sets up a “room” which is a temporary URL. Participants then visit the URL. They can “listen” in on the conversation, which means that they can read the live stream. Or if they would like, they can join in the conversation and type in a question or comment.
What are the Benefits?
TodaysMeet is an excellent way for a presenter to tailor their presentation to address audience needs. As well, it offers participants an opportunity to learn not only from the speaker but also fellow participants in the room.
Can I Ask an Out Loud Question?
During the session I actively engaged in TodaysMeet and posted a range of questions and comments digitally. However, at one point during the discussion the speaker addressed a TodaysMeet question that I had a follow up question I wanted to ask. It was directly related to his response.
To use TodaysMeet would have put my follow up question in amongst a stream of mini conversations happening between participants. It would have gotten lost in the stream and the moment would pass.
So I did the unthinkable…
I raised my hand and said, “Can I ask an Out Loud Question?”
The moderator laughed nervously.
Someone in the audience repeated, “An Out Loud Question?”. There was more laughter.
To which the moderator responded, “We will take those at the end”.
Technology Should Not Restrict Teacher-Student Interactions
If this was a classroom and not a conference room;
the presenter a teacher not a speaker;
and the people in attendance students not conference attendees…
it would be said that a “teachable moment” had been ignored.
Technology in schools should not restrict teacher-student interactions instead it should expand them. To that end, if you use TodaysMeet or something similar with your students leave space for “Out Loud” questions and grant permission for face to face conversations. If not, you might miss an opportunity for learning.