TodaysMeet: embracing the backchannel for learning

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TodaysMeet is designed to enhance learning by embracing the backchannel; the ‘secondary or covert route for the passage of information’ (Oxford Dictionary) that runs alongside learning.

TodaysMeet for learning and teaching

TodaysMeet allows for shared thoughts, questions, and ideas to run alongside a presentation or discussion, in ‘real time’, just as it is happens.

For those already familiar with Twitter, TodaysMeet is similar in that it enables people to ‘talk’ in a threaded conversation using mobile devices. However, there is an important difference between TodaysMeet and Twitter. TodaysMeet is a virtual private room where only those who are invited can comment, and only those in the virtual room can read. It is a tool that is inspired by a teacher and created for education. Twitter is a public conversation where anyone can read and join in with a thread (unless the settings are altered) and it has not been built with education in mind.

For those interested on the differences between using Twitter and TodaysMeet, you might like to read this teacher’s experience of using both Twitter and TodaysMeet in teaching.


Students can access TodaysMeet without registering for an account, so there is no time in your session lost to the process of registering. Students too won’t feel ‘out of it’ by having to own up to not owning the latest account in the social media whirl.

Safe as virtual houses

TodaysMeet is safe too. Students can experiment with using their voice and communicating with others in an online forum, without being inhibited by the knowledge that they are potentially exposed to the public. Not everyone engages easily with social media. TodaysMeet is ideal to allow inclusive communication around learning to occur in a safe and educational setting.

TodaysMeet features also include:

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TodaysMeet is a private conversational space


  • private space for your class (a room) with a link you can share
  • ability to set the room to end after an hour, a day, a week, even a year
  • ability to block inappropriate comments appearing in the TodaysMeet stream (without notifying the sender)
  • the function to download a transcription of the conversation to keep and share
  • settings to enable coloured text to identify different conversations
  • a QR code for your TodaysMeet room

How it works

Go to the TodaysMeet webpage, name your room, specify the length of time you want the room for, and then start talking and listening.

Your room is now ready for your conversation. Split into two sections, your room has a ‘listen’ area to view the conversation in real time, and a ‘talk’ area where learners can add to the conversation.

Your TodaysMeet room thread can be projected onto a SMARTboard or screen during a session. This can be used in many ways to help learners, for example, those who are not confident with their public speaking skills in large classes can ask questions anonymously. The lecturer too can get a good understanding of whether their material is being understood in an instant.

TodaysMeet a blog - student asking a question

TodaysMeet can help students ‘speak up’ in large lectures

Teaching ideas

A useful website with additional ideas of how to use TodaysMeet in learning and teaching has been created by Spanish language teacher, Matt Miller. His comprehensive website lists 20 innovative ways TodaysMeet including;

  • holding online office hours
  • polling
  • feedback
  • inviting a guest speaker

See Matt Miller’s website for more ideas, including creating rotating stories, crowd sourcing for details, connecting with other classrooms, and practising digital citizenship skills, to name but a few.

Try a room for size

Tech Tools created the Tech Tools Room as an example of TodaysMeet. You can follow the link and join in the conversation to see for yourself how a TodaysMeet conversation works. You will be pleasantly surprised how easy it is.

Who is behind TodaysMeet?

James Socol, a developer in Brooklyn, New York, whose CV includes employers such as Bitly and Mozilla, created TodaysMeet for his father, teacher.

James Socol: “I built TodaysMeet for a specific need—a classroom backchannel for my father’s classes. It’s resonated with so many teachers because it can be transformative for all sorts of classrooms and learners.

One of the most exciting things I hear is that 100% of students in a class were engaged on TodaysMeet, even those who don’t normally participate out loud. Sometimes that’s enhancing an activity like having a discussion or watching a video, other times that’s enabling entirely new activities, like real-time discussion in Socratic Circles or conversations that spread outside the classroom.

If you would like to find out more about TodaysMeet and how you can use it in teaching and learning, please contact your School Learning Technologist who will be happy to help.


creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by marek.sotak:

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Richard Holt®:


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  1. […] Embracing the backchannel for learning – Article from University of Sussex […]

  2. […] platforms, creating a class twitter hashtag for students to contribute to or using websites such as TodaysMeet, Moodle (Study Direct) chat to create a safe and private channel space for real-time discussion. 7 […]

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We are the Educational Enhancement team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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