Online chat room provides more voice for students

Matthew Berry, Staff Writer

With the expanding use of different technology services through out schools, some teachers have began using online discussion services during class. According to teachers and students alike, one particular service called “Todays Meet” has given voice to students who are not inclined to speak in class as much as others who are more outspoken, creating what some might call a positive, with relatively few downfalls.

One example of use  is found in Teacher Ed Walker’s classroom in his Gender’s Game class. “What that does is it allows me to create a room, and students can have a discussion about the topic given,” Walker said. “I’ve used it as a discussion starter at the beginning of class, I’ve also used it to have kids respond in a particular issue we had in class discussion.”

Using this website did not need prior approval by administration or the technology department.

One of the biggest advantages of Todays Meet is that it creates new avenues for students, through anonymity. “[It gives students] a new way to contribute to the conversation,” Walker said. “I’ve also used it where I’ve asked kids to use a nick name, so that allows them to be anonymous.” He said the reason why is that it allows more kids to feel comfortable in class.

Multiple students agreed with Walker, that it lets students feel more comfortable in the classroom. “There are some people that are afraid to speak their opinions in class,” Babcock said. “Some people might not want to voice there opinion out loud in class, but still have something to say.”

Junior Olivia Goodale also agrees with the usefulness of Today’s Meet. “I like it. You can really voice your opinion on things,” she said.

Other teachers have also used todays meet but with less success. “I had intended to use it for kids that don’t feel comfortable talking in class could pose a question or comment, with out having to talk, [but] it only worked that way for one or two kids,” English teacher Wendy Arch said. “Kids made jokes at each others expense, and it devolved into chaos.” Arch thinks the anonymity of Todays Meet led to lack of accountability on some student’s behalf.

Arch said in the feature she might assign kids a name. “So I know who they are but they’re still kind of anonymous, but there’s not the need for someone to be a show off,” Arch said.

Walker on the other hand, has had better luck with behavior. “The teacher has to monitor the conversation,” Walker said. “I’ve told students that if I see anything inappropriate I just close it down.” He has not yet had to close down the chat.

Another website used was the forum discussion for Moodle. According to Arch, the Moodle is more like a traditional forum, with subtopics, threads and comments.  She also said that it has had better success then Today’s Meet for her. “I find that is a lot more academically productive,” she said. “Students know that Moodle is an academic environment.”

She also mentioned that because students have log in with their school user name the anonymity is gone. “There is accountability, so they cant say whatever they want, how they want” Arch said.

Some students would like to see these more often. Babcock believes that this could be used in other classes. “Like in government right now we are talking about politics right now, and some people might not want to voice there opinion out loud, but maybe still want to say something,” Babcock said.