A Missing “Meet Now” Button = A New Learning Experience

As I’ve mentioned on my blog before, this summer I’m one of two site leads for an online summer camp. On Friday night at around 10:30, I was on Microsoft Teams checking out some of the posts in the instructor channels and I started to panic: where was the “Meet Now” button on the iPad? When the other site lead and I were working through the logistics of Camp Power this summer, our plan was to have the instructors facilitate their synchronous sessions through their private channels. No need for calendar invites. No need to email links to parents and students. This was going to be easy. Now though, we had a big problem. Many of our families will be using iPads to connect each day, and if there’s no “Meet Now” button on an iPad, what will this mean for our families?

It was now time to do some problem solving. I guess that I could have taken a number of different approaches. Here’s what I did.

  • I emailed my co-lead, Carrie, with the problem.
  • I turned to Google, and I began to search for solutions. Is there a way to make the “Meet Now” button appear? This is when I found this article, which caused me to panic even more, and send off another email to Carrie.

This then led to some texts back and forth. A special shout-out to Carrie, who helped me find some calm and reassured me that there must be a solution. She met with students in channels during the school year, and it never seemed so complicated.

  • I told Carrie that I was going to send off a tweet, and see if anyone knew a solution. She was going to do some research.
  • I began to think about calendar invitation options, but then I remembered our phys-ed, music, and art instructors (the last ones being guests from the Art Gallery of Hamilton), and how confusing this new option would be for everyone.
  • I decided to take Carrie’s advice, sleep on it, and re-explore the problem the next day.

When I went to bed, Carrie researched and found some videos that might prove useful. She sent them off to me, and I used these videos as a jumping off point for my own investigations yesterday morning. I realized something: if I join a meeting in a channel, I can copy the “Join Info,” and I can post that for others to view. This could be a work around. Children could click on this join information and join the channel discussions. Bingo! I was excited to send off this tweet yesterday morning knowing that this was a problem that we could solve.

Yesterday afternoon, I went onto Microsoft Teams, entered all 18 instructor channels, copied the different meeting information, and posted a note to parents and children about how to join. Then I began to wonder: if people can see the “Meet Now” button, could they click on it in the channel, and would it take them to the same place as the meeting information that I copied, or does this meeting link change each day? Oh no! Could this be another problem?

Before emailing staff with our workaround solution, I thought, “I can test this out.” I decided to start a meeting on my computer, and then go to join the meeting on my iPad. I would start the meeting through the “Meet Now” button and join it through my post. This is where things got interesting. Do you know what you see in a private channel when a meeting is in progress?

This is what you see!

Teams provides a great big post with a “Join” button, so that even those on tablets can join a meeting with ease. Knowing that all of our instructors will be facilitating their meetings on computers, this big issue turned into a non-issue. Of course this deserved another tweet! 🙂

What’s the learning here then?

  • When using technology, explore options for different devices if at all possible. How do things work the same? How might they be different? What are some possible workarounds?
  • Test things out multiple times. Then test them out again. If I hadn’t decided to try out a meeting on two devices at the same time, I wouldn’t have realized that my big problem was actually no problem at all. This is kind of like the measure twice, cut once philosophy of technology. There are never too many times to try.
  • Approach problems with an inquiry mindset. I’m not going to pretend that I didn’t ask for help, but I also tried to do some problem solving of my own. I thought of different options (including the calendar invitation one that I didn’t love, but would have worked), I kept questioning (even when I thought that I had a solution), and I did some research on my own and with Carrie’s help. Then I applied what I learned, and in the end, there was a solution, even if there wasn’t actually a problem. 
  • Take a risk. We ask our kids to take risks all the time. The question of, “What have you tried already?,” is one that I’ve asked and heard asked more times than I can count. If we want students to be risk-takers though, do we first have to model this behaviour in ourselves? What is it about technology that makes many individuals more fearful of risk-taking? If any of you saw me on Friday night, I might have heightened your stress level. After my emails to Carrie, my research, and my tweet, I got on Microsoft Teams on my iPad, and I started clicking. I first explored all of the “…” options, as I know that this tends to lead to more options, and I was hoping that one was “Meet Now.” Then I looked at the gears. I also tried every “Manage” possibility, thinking that there might be a way to turn on this “Meet Now” option. I’m pretty sure that in the end, I clicked just about everything in our Microsoft Teams channels. You know what though? Nothing was lost or ruined. This didn’t solve the problem, but it did let me know that the option that I wanted wasn’t available. Maybe this pushed me to seek out another solution even more.
  • Find a person that helps you focus. I love working with my teaching partner, Paula, during the school year, but with the exception of her, I’m usually a lone wolf when it comes to working. I like tinkering and problem solving on my own. I will reach out for help, but I’m not a person that looks for a big team. For the past couple of summers, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Carrie. She’s far more social than I am. She definitely knows more about technology than I do. And her organizational systems are ones that I aspire to, but might be unlikely to attain. On Friday night, she also calmed me. She talked me down from, “Oh no! We’re going to have to re-think our whole approach,” to “There must be a solution.” When I went to bed, she did some research, and when I woke up, I applied her findings to help solve our problem. It was a team approach, and it worked because seeking out a solution can only happen when you’re in the frame of mind to do so. Thanks Carrie for putting me in that frame of mind. 

Sometimes it’s interesting to dissect a problem after you’ve experienced one. How did you approach the problem? What did you learn from this experience? On Friday night, I wasn’t seeing all of the positives in the missing “Meet Now” button, but now, I can see a lot more. Have you gone through a similar process before? There might be something to be said for finding those nuggets of positivity, learning, and growth in the most unexpected of places.


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