Texting In The Classroom: 3 Tools To Do It Right

texting your classWhether you teacher teenagers or five-year-olds, keeping in touch with students and/or their parents is often on a teacher’s to-do list. Gone are the days of sending home hand-written and photocopied notes to parents, this is 2013. So how do important messages get passed along these days? In “real” life (read: non-school life), most people are sending text messages to pass along their most important (and unimportant!) messages to those who need to know.

So why not use the same easy and popular method in your classrooms?

Many people think that sending group text messages is a cumbersome process: inputting each individual’s information into your address book, and creating a ‘message’ for each class by manually adding each contact in? It sounds annoying even typing it. Lots of other people thought so, too, and thus there are a number of group text messaging services out there, some even specially designed for use by teachers who need to keep in touch with groups of students or parents. Here are a few that we find easy to use and classroom friendly:

Remind101

remindWe’ve mentioned Remind101 before here on Edudemic. More than once, in fact. It’s been dubbed ‘Twitter for Teachers”, a name that highlights a different way of using the service than we’re highlighting here. Using this service, teachers can create groups. Each group will have a code to give out to students and parents. Using that code, they can send an email or a text to sign up for the service (and they can also choose to opt out later). Teachers and others in the group never see other phone numbers or emails, and the service also allows you to schedule messages in advance, which can be a great time saver for busier times of the school year. Teachers send messages using their computer, rather than their own phone, which helps to ensure privacy (and crazy text messaging charges)!

ClassPager

classpagerClassPager works much the same way as Remind101: teachers send messages from their computer to phones using group enrollment codes, everyone’s numbers are private, and members of the group can text back and forth easily. The service also offers an additional idea on how to use it in the classroom: use it to ask questions during class or to take polls. ClassPager offers users one class for free, and then additional classes are either $10 or $20 per month ($10 per month gets you unlimited classrooms and up to 75 students; $20 per month is for 200 students and unlimited classrooms).

ClassParrot

parrotAgain, similar to Remind101 and ClassPager, ClassParrot lets teachers use their computer to send text messages to students and/or parents, users can opt in or out, and phone numbers are kept private. The first twenty messages you send are free, and beyond that, ClassParrot is a pay service. Individual teachers can buy an unlimited plan for $9 per month, or if you’re looking to subscribe for a whole school or larger group, there are bundled plans available.

4 Comments

  1. Mark Isero

    January 1, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    These — especially Remind 101 — look great, but my favorite is SmashText, a free program that works on Windows machines (it’s not an online app). SmashText links with your Google contacts and Google Voice number, and you can send mass or individual texts to students and receive responses from them. As a high school English teacher, SmashText is invaluable!

  2. Azar Aftimos The Teacher

    January 2, 2013 at 7:53 am

    It is a very important topic that needs to be addressed long time ago. I find the article very informative on how to deal with the issue and it provides answers to implement solutions. Thanks a lot for sharing.

  3. Mike

    January 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Anything to improve the communication and transparency would be great. My sense is that teachers and administrators give lips service to creating greater access for parents but in actuality it is very reluctant. In fairness, this reluctance may be due to having crazy parents to deal with but I suspect it is as much or more an attitude that they don’t want oversight and questions regardless of how reasonable the questions. I imagine a greatly increased value of any of these services would be the auto alert for any posting of a grade or note in an assignment program. Of course, this would assume the teachers are consistently using these programs in a timely fashion. Not the case where I live.

  4. JM @ ClassLink

    January 7, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Certainly no need to add in extra time to just pass along a message to your students and organize things as it goes. I absolutely love these helpful tools that make our lives efficient especially for those people who really value time. And thanks, Mark, for adding in SmashText. Cheers!