Kids don’t email. My students are less likely to check their in-boxes than they are to listen to a voice mail. They dwell often in social media, and I sometimes use twitter to connect with them, but it feels like an intrusion. And they say “I don’t want to tweet for my English assignment, I might loose followers.” SMS messaging is an older technology, but it’s still vital and important. When my phone buzzes with a text, I reflexively reach for it.
I would like to be able to communicate with my students through text messaging, but, like many other teachers, I don’t feel comfortable sharing my phone number with them. A free web service called Remind101 allows me to do that. I can log on on my laptop or use an app on my phone to text one or multiple classes. I can send the message immediately or schedule it for a later time or date.
Through a simple process using the texting feature on their phones, students register for a specific class. I don’t have to make lists and tediously enter numbers. I don’t even have access to their phone numbers and, even better, they don’t have access to mine. Nor do I have the ability to text them individually. Remind101 could also help you communicate with parents.
Unfortunately, Remind101 is not perfect. Students are not able to text me back using this service. If they have a question, they still need to email. Also, the messages are limited to 140 characters, like a tweet. And finally, I still have two or three students who lack a phone or don’t have unlimited texting plans and are hesitant to sign up, so I don’t use this as my only line of communication with them.
Perhaps Remind101 could help you communicate with students and parents. If you have any questions, post them as a comment and I will respond.
(I teach English to high school seniors in a suburb of Denver)