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Introducing Yearly Billing

Many of you have asked for an option to pay for Teacher Tools annually, instead of every month. We’ve heard you, and today are so excited to announce that yearly billing is now available!

Yearly billing will save you 5% on Teacher Tools, at $57 per year. Monthly billing is still just $5 per month, and you can always use TodaysMeet without Teacher Tools for free.

If you’re already a Teacher Tools subscriber (thank you!) and want to switch to yearly billing, you can do so in your subscription settings.

If you’re a new or returning Teacher Tools subscriber, you can choose yearly billing when you upgrade.

Downtime for maintenance this weekend

TodaysMeet will be unavailable for several short periods this weekend (March 6-8) while one of our service providers performs necessary maintenance.

They have apologized to us, and I apologize to you, for the short notice and inconvenience. This maintenance is critical and cannot be rescheduled. Hopefully the interruptions will also be far shorter than planned.

Times are given in US Eastern Standard and UTC (in case I messed up the conversion from UTC to Eastern).

  • 2am–4am, Friday, March 6th (07:00–09:00 UTC).
  • 7pm–9pm, Friday, March 6th (00:00–02:00, March 7th, UTC).
  • 9pm–11pm, Saturday, March 7th (02:00–04:00, March 8th, UTC).

There may be interruptions during the following windows, but they should not be noticeable:

  • 5am–7am, Friday, March 6th (10:00–12:00 UTC).
  • 10pm Friday, March 6th–12am Saturday, March 7th (03:00–05:00, March 7th, UTC).
  • 2pm–4pm, Saturday, March 7th (19:00–21:00 UTC).

Browser Support Update: No longer supporting Internet Explorer 8

TodaysMeet will no longer support Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) as of March 1st, 2015.

What this means

Being a “supported browser” means two things:

  • I test TodaysMeet in that browser, and
  • I will fix issues in that browser.

As of March 1st, I will no longer test TodaysMeet in IE8 or fix issues with TodayMeet that only happen in IE8. It does not mean that TodaysMeet will immediately stop working in IE8. It may stop working soon, though.

No other browsers are affected. TodaysMeet still supports:

  • Google Chrome (most recent two versions)
  • Mozilla Firefox (most recent two versions and most recent extended support release)
  • Internet Explorer (version 9 and above)
  • Apple Safari (version 7 and above)
  • Opera (most recent version)
  • iOS – all devices
    • Built-in Safari on iOS 7 and 8
    • Chrome (most recent version)
  • Android – all devices
    • Built-in Android browser (version 4 and above)
    • Chrome (most recent version)
    • Firefox (most recent version)

Why this is changing

The more browsers TodaysMeet supports, the more time I spend on testing instead of building new features. Older browsers also limit the tools I have available which makes building those features slower or—occasionally—impossible.

IE8 is a particularly old browser: its tool box is missing a number of very powerful tools that would let me fix or build some things in minutes or hours instead of days or weeks. It also holds me back from upgrading some of the other tools I use to newer, smaller, faster versions—upgrades that would make TodaysMeet faster and more secure for you.

Finally, IE8 use has been declining all school year, and now accounts for less then one half of one percent of all visits to TodaysMeet. While I do my best to make TodaysMeet available to everybody on all devices—this is a big reason why there is not a TodaysMeet app yet—this trade-off costs 99.5% of the users too much.

(0.5% is a guideline that I take into account with a number of other factors when making these decisions.)

Dropping a supported browser is never done lightly, but in this case it will help me fix a big list of paper cuts across the site, and help pave the way for an even better TodaysMeet experience in the future.

#SOTU2015 on TodaysMeet

SOTU2015

Join TodaysMeet for tonight’s State of the Union address! Create a room for your class or group to watch, discuss, and see real-time data about all the #SOTU2015 conversations. See reactions to the speech as it happens!

You get to have a private conversation in your own room, but see the reactions from all of TodaysMeet!

Here’s how to participate:

Step1 Create a room with “SOTU” in the name, like “MrJamesCivicsSOTU”. See Update below!
Step2 At 9pm Eastern, come to the TodaysMeet State of the Union page and join your room.
https://todaysmeet.com/sotu
Step3 Watch the speech and follow along with your class and with the rest of the world!

Can’t get to a desktop or laptop to use our page? You can still join in the discussion! Join your room as usual from your phone or tablet.

Update:

We’re analyzing conversations about tonight’s address and showing you the results in real time. How do we know if your room is about the State of the Union? You can tell us!UkCrWhen you set up your room for tonight, you can choose whether or not to include this room in our real-time analysis. If the name of your room contains “SOTU” or “StateOfTheUnion”, we’ll assume you want to be included, unless you opt-out. But you can opt-in any room!

Just make sure to sign in when you open the room.

What we’re analyzing

We’re still working down to the wire to bring you the most interesting data we can. We are automatically scanning the contents of the messages—not the names or nicknames—and looking at things like the most common and most interesting words, the overall feeling (happy/sad, positive/negative) and simply the number of comments posted.

If you want to mention someone by name, just put an “@” before it—like “@James I disagree!”—and we’ll ignore it.

Check back for updates!

Check this post and our Twitter account for updates through the day as we get closer to tonight’s address. See you there!

State of the Union 2015

We’ve posted some more details.

For President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address, TodaysMeet is going to do something special!

Create a room for your class or group to discuss the SOTU, then, at 9pm Eastern on Tuesday, come to todaysmeet.com/sotu, where you can watch the address, participate in your room—or join the official TodaysMeet State of the Union room—and see live data visualizations about all the SOTU conversations on TodaysMeet!

Your Privacy

TodaysMeet is committed to protecting the privacy of all its users. While the exact data and visualizations are still up in the air, data about conversations in other rooms will be presented in an anonymized, aggregate way. TodaysMeet users will be able to opt out (or in!) their rooms completely.

TodaysMeet in 2014

2014 was a very busy year at TodaysMeet, so I thought it would be fun to look back at the work we’ve done over the past year. I collected a few of the meaningful stats about TodaysMeet use and compared them with 2013, to see just how much TodaysMeet has grown.

Rooms and Messages

In 2014, you posted 23,980,574 messages, well more than double the 2013 total of 10,528,603.

2014-messagesThose messages were spread over 597,077 new rooms, just about double the number in 2013: 297,854.

2014-rooms

The most popular length for a room is still one week, which went from just under 60% of all new rooms to just over. You still love one-month and one-year rooms, but two-hour rooms aren’t so popular anymore.

2014 (top) vs 2013 (bottom)

2014-lengths

2013-lengths

Users

Maybe two-hour rooms lost out because you can sign up for an account and close a room when you’re done. TodaysMeet accounts are brand new in 2014. We only added them in July, and by the beginning of December, 100,000 students and teachers had signed up!

2014-accounts

Millions of you use TodaysMeet without ever needing an account. About a million more, in fact, than last year!

2014-visitors

Communication

In 2014 we did a much better job staying in touch, and letting you know what was going on with TodaysMeet. We more than doubled the number of blog posts:

2014-blog-posts

And more than twice as many of you follow us on Twitter now, too!

2014-followers

Thank you!

Thank you all so much for helping make 2014 TodaysMeet’s best year yet! We can’t wait to see what happens in 2015 and beyond!

New Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

TodaysMeet’s Terms of Service and Privacy Policy just got an upgrade! This morning we introduced a new version of our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy that are now in effect. What does this mean for TodaysMeet users?

Over the past year and a half, TodaysMeet has changed a lot! You can sign up, subscribe to Teacher Tools, and keep track of your rooms forever. When you do, you trust us with more data, and we need to store that data in new ways. The new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy reflect these changes and our commitment to protecting the data you share with us.

The new Terms of Service largely overlap with the old version. It’s been tailored to TodaysMeet, and a number of areas—including what to do about copyrighted material and notes for users outside the United States—have been clarified. New sections have been added to explain both your rights and ours regarding accounts and Teacher Tools.

The new Privacy Policy reiterates TodaysMeet’s commitment to protecting students and their data. We’ve clarified what we do share and with whom. We’ve made it easier for us to work with school administrators in cases of abuse or bullying, while maintaining our policy of collecting and storing as little information as necessary to provide an effective classroom tool.

We’ve also updated the site to better protect users under the age of 13 by limiting the information participants without accounts use to join a room to just a first name or nickname.

We’re very excited about the new Terms and Privacy Policy! Please contact us with any questions at help@todaysmeet.com.

House of #EdTech

TodaysMeet is sponsoring House of #EdTech, a bi-weekly podcast by Christopher Nesi!

Chris’s podcast features interviews with educators, discussions of tech in the classroom, and regular recommendations of new tools to check out. It’s a great resource, especially if you’re looking for new activities or ways to empower your students, and I’m proud to be sponsoring it.

The next issue will mark Chris’ first year of producing House of #EdTech, and to celebrate, Chris is ending the year with the House of #EdTech Smackdown. And he wants you to contribute your favorite tool!

Check out the latest episode—and the episode that included TodaysMeet, which also features a great discussion of the role of libraries. And be sure to submit your favorite tech tools!

Control the Conversation

Teacher Tools helps you control the conversation by introducing three new tools: Pause, Mute, and Topics.

Keep the focus on the activity with Topics. Use them for prompts or questions: when the topic changes, everyone sees it in real time. Use Topics with Pause to give everyone time to think before answering.

Unlike closing a room, when you Pause a room, you can come back and restart the conversation where you left off! You can leave rooms open for students to read and refer to without worrying about what they’re saying when you’re not there to monitor it.

Of course, with Teacher Tools you can publish and embed transcripts of closed rooms, too!

If the conversation starts going off track, Pause to interrupt and refocus. One or two students continuing to give you trouble? Mute them for the rest of the backchannel. They won’t know they’ve been muted, so it looks like the rest of the class has just lost interest in them.

Sign up to get started and learn more about Teacher Tools!

Improve Privacy and Accountability with My School

My School lets teachers limit who can see or participate in their rooms to students and faculty of their school, greatly improving the privacy of their rooms. It also greatly improves the accountability by making it much harder to change their identities. Here’s how My School works, and how it steps up privacy and accountability for students.

How My School works

When you sign up or sign in to TodaysMeet, you do so with an email address and a password. An email address has two parts, which I’ll call the user and the domain. The user is the part of the email address before the @-sign. The domain is the part that comes after the @-sign.

For example, if your email address is help@todaysmeet.com, the user is “help” and the domain is “todaysmeet.com“.

My School works by limiting who may join a room by their email domain. So if I set up a My School room, it would let users who signed up with alice@todaysmeet.com and bob@todaysmeet.com join, but not carol@anotherwebsite.com.

So My School has two requirements:

  1. Your students must have working school-issued email addresses with a school domain, for example myschool.org or students.myschool.org.
  2. Your students must sign up for TodaysMeet accounts with this email address. So they must
    1. Be 13 years old and otherwise agree to the Terms of Service
    2. Confirm their email address by clicking on a link in an email when they sign up
    3. Collecting parental permission is strongly encouraged even if it’s not legally required where you live.

You can go into your settings to configure all the domains used at your school.

Privacy

When you use My School, TodaysMeet stops other users, even signed-in users, from joining your room if they aren’t associated with your school. Even though this is extremely rare, especially with unique room names, it’s additional peace of mind.

Accountability

More importantly and more commonly, because My School requires a verified email address from your school, it’s very difficult for students to change their identity and escape accountability for their actions.

Whenever you are signed in, your Speaker Color is the same. If you change your name, or even if you change your email address, the Speaker Color will be constant. For grading or, when necessary, for discipline, TodaysMeet accounts can improve accountability quite a bit.

But while it’s relatively easy to create a new email address at a free service—and use that to create a new TodaysMeet account—creating a new school email address is very difficult. My School means that just signing up for a new account with a fake email address is not enough: students must prove the email address is associated with the school, that it is real, and that they own it.

My School is part of Teacher Tools, which is available now for (US)$5 per month. Upgrade today!

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