Monday, February 21, 2011

Chatango - A Backchanel Alternative!

This should be a cause for celebration - It's my 100th blog post here at - granted over half of those have been in the last month.  But I must state an unequivocal Yippe! OK, with that out of the way let's talk about today's utility: Chantango!  Although, it should be called lifesaver!  I was all set to use CoverItLive for my backchannel at ICE this week.

The Backstory (no pun intended)
Unfortunately, I had relied on the kindness of strangers and believed that CoverItLive could be used effectively as a backchannel.  Well, I'm not seeing it.  It's better for live blogging - Which I may mess around with during my sessions at ICE, but certainly not while I'm presenting.  So, no problem, I'd just use the old reliable stand by Chatzy.  But they have changed their structure to only allow 10 people in the room in the FREE version.  And as much as I love my session attendees, I was not about to pay $9.95 for the trial 14 day version (hey folks at Chatzy - A Trial should be free). Yesh!
So, I started scrambling and asked my PLN for help on Twitter.  Thanks to @Taml17 who immediately responded with TodaysMeet another great alternative - Unfortunately, I wanted to embed the backchannel into a weebly site and weebly wasn't going to play nice with TodaysMeet. See folks even geeks can struggle with integrating technology.

The Story
What is a backchannel but a chat room masked under a fancy title.  I began searching for a free embeddable chatroom that would accommodate more than 10 or 30 people and discovered Chatango.  Never having used it I set up a chat room (took about 3 minutes) and grabbed the embed code for the Weebly page.  Then sent out another call for help to get some assistance on testing it.  To my rescue came the PLN.  I recognized one person who came in almost immediately @MichelleRussell. Thank You! I think this is going to work great!

What's nice about Chatango, is that you can embed the code into other Blogs, Wikis and Websites.  You can also assign moderators and let people post anonymously.  There are a number of ways to customize the layout.  Additionally, they have the ability to use provate one-to-one messaging and a number of other features I will need to explore later.

If you want to see Chatango being used effectively please attend  "Tools Not Toys: A New Look at the Digital Playground" in the Coral Room at 10:45 Wednesday during Session 2 of ICE.  Hope to see you there!
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