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We are using the online engagement tool Thoughtexchange to have meaningful and productive online conversations. This will improve our work.

A Thoughtexchange is a way to crowdsource a community’s answers to one question, in real time. You can respond, consider, and assign stars to the ideas shared by others (20 to 30 is ideal) and we can all learn what’s important to the group.

A Thoughtexchange has three steps. First, participants share their thoughts; next, they see each other’s thoughts and add stars to them; and then, they see the shared results of all thoughts and stars combined.  

Your thoughts and stars can be seen by anyone in the exchange but are anonymous. You can come back as often as you’d like to participate and, in fact, we ask that you do come back to star some of the new ideas shared since you first participated. The ratings will help us understand the most important areas to focus on for distance learning. 

Thank you for participatingIf you have questions, see our Frequently Asked Questions below, or email [email protected] 

Audience Topic and questions Links

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Thoughtexchange?

ThoughtexchangeTM is a tool used to gather input from communities through meaningful and productive online conversations.

What kinds of questions will I be asked?

You’ll be asked to answer one open-ended question where you can provide as many responses as you like.  

What does Share, Star and Discover mean?

  • SHARE – where everyone shares their thoughts. 
  • STAR – where everyone sees each other’s thoughts and adds stars (from 1-5) depending on how strongly you agree or disagree with the idea.
  • DISCOVER – where everyone’s thoughts are sorted by the average star rating. 

Who will see my responses?

Your responses (i.e., your ‘thoughts’) will be shared, exactly as you have submitted them, with others participating in the exchange. ThoughtexchangeTM keeps confidential who shared each thought and who assigned what ratings.  

How many “thoughts” can I share?

You can share as many thoughts as you would like – there is no limit. Please organize and separate your thoughts so that each thought is about a specific idea. Keep each thought focused on one point. This will make it easier for others to decide how many stars to assign that thought. Each thought is limited to 300 characters.  

Can I suggest alternative ideas through ThoughtexchangeTM?

Yes, as long as they are related to the topics of discussion. ThoughtexchangeTM poses open-ended questions so that participants have the freedom to share all of their thoughts related to the topics.  

I’ve shared my thoughts. What happens next?

Once you’ve shared your thoughts, you can see the thoughts of others and add stars to thoughts that you like the best. This helps to identify the things that are the most important to participants. It also helps us make sure that decisions are well-balanced and informed. 

How many stars can I assign?

For each thought you review, you can assign between one and five stars. You can assign stars to as many thoughts as you would like. Thoughts will appear one-by-one and the ThoughtexchangeTM algorithm ensures that each thought can be rated.  

Whose thoughts am I seeing?

In the STAR step, you’ll be given the opportunity to read a selection of submitted thoughts. It is best to rate 30 thoughts, but you can rate more or less 

Why can’t I see all of the thoughts I shared?

Generally, most of the thoughts you shared will appear in your selection of thoughts in the STAR step, provided you view enough thoughts overall. However, if you added a lot of thoughts, you might not see all of them. Also, ThoughtexchangeTM  reviews every thought that is added and removes any thoughts that are rude or hurtful to a person or a group of people, contains identifying information, or does not answer the question.  

Do I see all of the thoughts that were submitted in the SHARE phase?

To keep the STAR phase manageable, you will see a random selection of thoughts in addition to some of your own. ThoughtexchangeTM uses an algorithm to ensure that each thought is seen with the same frequency as every other thought, so each voice has an equal chance of being heard. 

What if I see a thought that I think is rude or hurtful?

You can flag a thought for review by clicking the Options icon (3 dots) for that thought and then clicking on “Report”. A facilitator will be notified to review the flagged thought 

How often can I participate?

As often as you want – in fact, the more the better!  By revisiting the exchange, you will get to see and rate new thoughts that are being shared. Those thoughts might even spark new thoughts for you to add. 

My first language is not English. Can I get help to complete the online consultation?

Thoughtexchange uses Google translate to provide you with all of the thoughts and the question in your language of choice. If you’d like to participate in another language other than English, you can do so by clicking ‘Change language’ from the drop-down menu on the Introduction page for your exchange. You can participate in any Google Translate supported language. 

I received multiple invitations. Can I participate more than once?

You may receive multiple invitations if you belong to more than one group: parents/guardians, staff, and/or community partner.  You may respond separately to each invitation to express your thoughts as a member of that group.  

Will people know what responses were mine?

No, your responses are displayed confidentially. Your thoughts will be shared, exactly as you submit them, with other participants during the STAR step. If you choose to sign up for a Thoughtexchange account, your name and/or email address will never be connected to your specific thoughts or displayed. You do not need an account to participate. Please be careful not to include any information in your thoughts that you do not want shared. 

If I create a Thoughtexchange account, is my name and/or email address kept confidential?

Yes. The platform provider, ThoughtexchangeTM, automatically removes names and email addresses from responses so that every participant remains anonymous. Participants thoughts will be shared with others in the second step (STAR) and third step (DISCOVER), but responses are never publicly tied to specific email addresses or names. Thoughtexchange’s corporate policy is to not release the association of names to thoughts or stars to anyone, including the School Board, unless legally required to do so. You do not need an account to participate.  

Why would I create a Thoughtexchange account?

The only difference between participating with and without an account is that account holders get to see their own activity at the end of the exchange. In other words, they see how many thoughts they contributed, how many thoughts they rated and they see how their thoughts were rated by other participants. 

How do I know my privacy is protected?

HWDSB is committed to protecting your privacy in accordance with our legislated duty under the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. If you have questions about privacy, please contact our privacy office at 905.527.5092 or by email at [email protected]. 

Will my answers be filtered?

All responses will be reviewed and thoughts will be removed if they are rude or hurtful to a person or a group of people, if they identify a child, if they identify an individual negatively, and/or if they do not answer the question. 

Why was I asked to share my name?

The Thoughtexchange platform may present an option at the end of the survey process for participants to provide their name. This is an optional step and is offered so that Thoughtexchange can provide a “friendlier” greeting to participants whenever they log in to their process. Whether or not you choose to enter your name, responses are never publicly tied to specific email addresses or names.  

Will you be sharing my email address?

No, emails collected during the consultation process will only be used to facilitate this Thoughtexchange. They will not be shared or sold to another third-party.

Updated on Friday, March 25, 2022.
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