Product Review of YO Teach!
YO Teach! is a multi-featured backchannel web app where educators create and moderate chat rooms for real-time digital interaction among learners. Educators choose the Create a Room option to create searchable or private rooms. Create a free account to create rooms and access all the features. Most educators want to enable the admin features, which require a password to delete posts, mute learners, control room access, and use the interactive features. Educators will have to enter the password again after setting up the room to make these features appear during moderation. There’s also a Space board option in the chat rooms, which launches an interactive online whiteboard.
Kids access the rooms via a link, a QR code, or a numeric code. Once there, they can interact with educators and peer posts by sharing text messages, replying to others’ posts, voting, responding to polls, sharing and annotating pictures, and submitting drawings. Learners can enter a room and participate in a chat without an account.
Whether you’re looking for conversation starters, exit tickets, or formative assessment opportunities, YO Teach! has you covered. Ask kids to create and post an original haiku, and have the class vote for their favorites. Let kids teach each other facts they’ve learned about historical figures, scientific discoveries, technological revolutions, or different cultural traditions. Show a film related to your content, and let kids discuss as they watch it, perhaps sparking a lively debate about a real or fictional character’s motivations. Take a poll to see which real or virtual field trip interests kids the most (but be aware that learners can vote for all available options).
See how well kids are grasping class concepts by asking a content-related question and taking responses in the form of text, labeled images, or drawings. You’ll get valuable feedback in real-time along with the benefit of learners who can help to correct others’ misunderstandings. Overwhelmed by all those posts? Use the site’s features to filter posts you’ve starred, or download responses into a CSV file for a later look at the data.
However you use YO Teach!, stay on top of your rooms. Educators can turn on a profanity filter or activate a few room moderation features when they sign in with an account. But these methods are likely not going to be perfect; educators will still want to make it a practice to monitor active rooms and delete them when the conversation is over. Also, it’s unclear if YO Teach! Monitors rooms or collects data, so educators want to be careful about what kind of information their learners share.
With careful planning in lesson flow, YO Teach! can be an engaging way to get and give instant feedback, assign quick formative assessment tasks, and encourage collaboration and social interaction among learners — especially those who are more introverted. Because the site encourages learning through text and images, there are opportunities to reach more learners, especially when you take advantage of peer-to-peer teaching. Learners can help each other to understand difficult concepts by replying to individual posts. To that end, educators may want to begin with chats about ground rules for discussion, the importance of clear and respectful communication, and other digital citizenship concepts as they relate to social media, relationships, and online safety.
While it’s easy to use, YO Teach! won’t be intuitive for everyone, at least at first. A few short demo videos and a FAQ section help educators, but learners could use a quick walk-through demo to get acclimated to the different features. Automated text-to-speech and basic voice command features may help learners who require additional support. Educators can also take advantage of downloaded transcripts for later viewing to see overall trends and provide support for learners who may be struggling with concepts. This data can greatly enhance educators’ understanding of their learners regarding learning difficulties, social interaction strengths, writing skills, and other skills that can be hard to assess en masse.
Overall User Consensus About the App
Giving kids a chance to interact with classmates on a safe, social media-like platform is certain to engage even the most reluctant participants.
Curriculum and Instruction
While it’s a great fit for tasks that learners can respond to quickly and socially, educators will have to plan their lesson flow carefully; deeper learning may be tough to achieve using this platform.
The site is easy to use and has a clean interface; however, the space can get cluttered quickly and may overwhelm learners who struggle with reading or fast-paced activities.