One Simple Tool for Class Tomorrow

One Simple Tool for Class Tomorrow

The rhetoric that pervades our classrooms about ‘21st Century Learning’ has become a curriculum onto itself. Onwards and upwards into a framework that is born out of trend, material desire and stealthy marketing while the true essence of teaching is all-too-often forgotten. In the end, it really doesn’t matter what technology you use in the classroom as long as it works, works efficiently and works fast. Consider that the new WWW.

Below you will find one such tool that works, works efficiently and work fast with students of all ages. It is an example of a tool that facilitates communication, critical thinking and collaboration.


Today’ is the perfect tool to teach students in grades three and up about the basics of social media. I recommend reading their privacy statement which is written in plain English. The beauty of this tool is that it requires no login to use.

What is

It is a chat tool that allows for a conversation during class, note-taking and/or questions and answers about a lesson.

What are some of its features?

  1. A teacher can open a chat room for one hour, two hours, eight hours, one day, one week, one month or one year.

Why is this important?

When trying something new for the first time, it’s good to know that if anything goes wrong, the room will close in a very short time. This allows you to reflect on the experience without exposure to the World Wide Web.

  1. The Room Tools allow you to save and print a transcript of the chat that can serve one of two purposes: To provide documentation of learning or to provide evidence of misuse.

Why is this important?

The ability to print a transcript allows you to collect vital information about how students behave, how they process information and also what gaps may be present in their learning. The transcript will also capture students’ thinking who may not always readily participate in class. Finally, the evidence collected can be shown to parents, saved to a portfolio and most importantly drive your teaching to fill in gaps.

  1. For advanced users, you can embed the chat, present and share too.

Why is this important?

If you are using a virtual learning environment like BrightSpace (D2L), Blackboard, a blog, Google Sites or Office 365, you can link the chat or even embed the chat so that users never have to leave their native learning environment.

  1. It works on all platforms regardless of browser, operating system or choice of hardware.

Why is this important?

It doesn’t matter what device your board provides, works on all. This means that whether you use iOS, Android, Safari, Chrome or Firefox it simply works. Translation: A lot less stress on the teacher.

  1. It extends the conversation beyond class.

Why is this important?

Sometimes we as adults have our ‘Ah Ha!’ moments long after the conversation. A tool like this allows for later contributions to the conversation and gives the students time to ‘soak’ in the concept that you were teaching that day. The tool also allows students who may be out of class to participate or at least consume valuable information shared during the lesson.

Recommended Tips

  1. Post rules about online conduct first (i.e., Be Respectful, Stay on Topic, No Slang etc.)
  2. Anonymity is not allowed. Insist that students join the chat with first name and last initial. If someone signs in inappropriately then suspend their usage of the tool.
  3. Start slow. Select a small group of students (3-4) to be the ‘note-takers’ for the day or the week or for any given class. As your class progresses, consider assigning ‘Researchers’ ‘Questioners’ and ‘Fact Finders’ using the tool. Avoid permitting the entire class to take part until a culture of online citizenship has been established.
  4. Post the Ontario Catholic Graduate Expectation the Effective Communicator somewhere at the front and draw your students’ attention to it often.