Farewell to one of the great EdTech tools

TodaysMeet did so much; it just didn’t make enough

Count me among the many educators who’s bummed out by the news that TodaysMeet.com is shutting down. This site was a true gem. For the better part of the last decade, it provided a simple, intuitive and needed resource for free, without ads and without abusing our data privacy.

TodaysMeet made the idea of a Backchannel accessible to students and colleagues alike. Many of my earliest uses were during presentations at conferences; I would request two projectors and screens and in addition to my slides on the main screen, I would project a TodaysMeet backchannel on the other. It allowed for many more questions to be asked and to tap the collective intelligence of the room to answer them better than I alone could have.

In addition to using the site with other educators, I got a lot of classroom use out of it, especially in it’s early days when there was truly nothing like it. When I received a grant that allowed me to bring a set of iPod Touch devices into the classroom (this was before smart phones so kids were actually super into the iPods), TodaysMeet was a go-to resource as it’s 140 character limit was a perfect constraint for getting Spanish I and II students using their language skills.

My favorite use of the site is a collaboration I’ll never forget. I connected with the Spanish-language PR arm of the Environmental Protection Agency about a virtual guest speaker for Earth Day. One of their social media staff members joined my students periodically throughout the day, engaging them in Spanish with comprehensible trivia about recycling and sustainability and asking them questions, like what they could do in order to be more “verde” in protecting the environment. It was an engaging activity and built a lot of confidence in students who were impressed with their own ability to instant message with a native Spanish speaker.

It’s sad to see TodaysMeet shuttering because of all the difference it’s made for teachers and learners all over the world. As someone who tries to find the teachable moment in everything, it’s easy to see this as a lesson showing that an idea is only worth as much as people are willing to pay for it.

But I’m inclined to view it through a different lens: that in a world (especially the .com world) so motivated by profits, TodaysMeet’s creator was more married to values than dollars. With over a million users, there was plenty of data to sell and ads to place. But he didn’t place ads and was so far from collecting data for resale that he didn’t even require users to register in order to use the site.

At the end, the subscription model wasn’t enough to make it worthwhile and it appears he decided that doing it the way he wanted to do it was more important than whether to do it all. May we all be so bold in our principles!

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In addition to following Noah Geisel here on Medium, you can find him at SenorG on Twitter.

Hat tip to Ben Wilkoff for sharing the news about TodaysMeet closing down in his awesome Learning is Change newsletter.