Introducing 81Dash – EDU Backchannel for Education

Our apologies for taking a 2 month break from blogging in Fishing for Edtech.com but we have been working on one cool web 2.0 Application.

81Dash Banner81 Dash – A revolutionary communication platform for educators.

There are a ton of other great backchannels out there that we love and are big fans of. However, our team wanted to build something that was meant specifically for educators. Every step of its creation was taken from the teacher perspective. We assembled teams of teachers, spoke to them, demo, coded, and went back to the drawing board several times until out came 81Dash.

So what is 81Dash?

81 Dash is an educational backchannel. Basically it’s an environment for educators or students to collaborate with each other online. We added cool features like the ability to share documents, images, and much more.

What does 81 stand for?

In 81 the 8 is a vertical infinite symbol meaning without limit and 1 stands for the individual. So we saw 81 as the infinite power of one (an individual) and Dash stands for Dashboard which is the tool.

Site Breakdown:

The site is broken up into five sections.
Dash Chat, Dash Room, Dash Notes, Dash Tasks and Dash Mentions

Dash Chat:

Dash Chat This is a chat environment that allows you to communicate with students or other teachers. The Dash Chat has the ability for one to share documents and images with others in the room. Each Dash Chat has an individual URL. Anyone with that URL can join a room unless the room creator has locked the room.

Dash Rooms:

Dash RoomYou can create your own room or join rooms. In order to join a room all you need is the URL of that room. My favorite feature is that it gives the teacher/room creator the ability to lock the room so even if you have the URL, no one new can join that conversation until the room gets unlocked. The Dash Rooms have incredible action buttons that give you info such as:

  • Room Info – Lets you know who created the room. This comes in handy in contacting that person to make sure that they do not delete a room until you have saved the pdf transcript.
  • Delete Room – this feature is only for room creators. How many times have we created a room for one year, and then wanted to delete that room but you can’t in other systems. Well this gives the room creator/teacher full control of the life of that room. If you are a guest in a room then you also have the ability to leave a room at any time. All you need is the URL to get back in.
  • Lock Room – only room creators can lock rooms. We have heard of stories where students have hijacked other back channels. Well, now you can lock them all in or out.
  • Users – Love this feature. How many times have we had a back channel that has 50 -200 people In there but only 5 of them talk. Well now you can view everyone’s username that is in your backchannel, and if you are the room creator, you can kick them out. This will help with unwanted guests, but don’t forget to lock that room after you kick them out.
  • Upload Users: A backchannel is a powerful tool and they should not be only for secondary students. I set up a student upload excel sheet that teachers can use to create student accounts and import them into the system. The little ones will still need to visit the URL for that room, but at least the account creation process was easier, and now the teacher has full control of the Usernames and Passwords for their students.

Dash Notes:

Dash NotesSo the thought process here is to give teachers and students a place inside 81dash to take quick personal notes and export them to PDF. By no means is this Evernote or OneNote, but it’s a simple way to jot down a quick url or key topic that you want to remember later.
Dash Task: This feature was created 100% for that teacher. It’s a way to get a task list or important message in a spot where each and every member/student can see it, and check it off as complete.

Dash Mentions:

Dash MentionsWell this idea came from large classrooms. Sometimes students or teachers get going on a back channel and the communication is going so fast you cannot keep up. We find people to be having side conversations but then we have to dig and search to see if they wrote back to us. Well with Dash Mentions, any time in the Dash Chat you mention a person like @Username then that message gets populated in both places, the Dash Chat and the Dash Mentions.

So as you can see we have been busy. This is one cool passion project. I think it’s necessary to give credit where credit is due here for 81 Dash.
Thanks to the amazing team of 6 that has given me amazing feedback and is the backbone of my PLN. I am grateful for your advice, leadership but most importantly your friendship is priceless.

  • Sergio Yanes
  • Kelly Little
  • James Gubbins
  • Jerry Swiatek
  • Gary Davis
  • Stephanie Fernandez
  • James Hartman

 

– Thanks to Adam Bellows and Steve Dembo for leading the path and being just what you guys are are: EDUAwesome.
– Thanks to my favorite Community that gave me some incredible functionality ideas and is supportive beyond belief – DEN Stars (Discovery Education Network)
– Thanks to Ed Mansouri for his incredible mentorship.
Honestly, there are so many others to thank, I am just lucky to be surrounded by a PLN that truly cares about children and education.