Last year, I used Remind.com to remind kids of upcoming quizzes or tests. It was great and pretty easy to install, as students could sign up with a simple text. The issue, however, was that their phone numbers would change every few months* and then they would no longer be on the update list.
I decided to try Class Messenger this year. It is also another free messaging service for students and teachers to communicate with one another. However, it is far more superior and once you start using it, you can notice the differences and the advantages over Remind.com. And they are major ones!
While Remind.com can be installed as an app, I couldn’t get a lot of kids to install it. It worked well as simple text. However, Class Messenger, as far as I can tell, really only works through an app. Even if you want text updates, you have to go through the site and do full registration. At first, I thought this was a setback, but as I started forcing kids to download and install the app in class**, I’m realizing that this will be beneficial; even if their phone numbers change, they will still be able to get messages me throughout the year! And not only that, the kids who don’t have phones, but are using iPods, will get the updates when they hit their Wi-Fi at home!
Another game changer is that there is actually two-way communication. The Ontario College of Teachers frowns upon using common social media, like Facebook, to contact kids, because the professional and private boundaries can get blurred very easily. However, tools like Remind and CM are more appropriate for use in educational settings and are set up that way. I finally tested it out today and I have to say, it’s great! I can actually see when students have read my message.
Also, the Grade 10s are having their lab safety test tomorrow, so I thought I would give some incentive to actually having the app installed:
I’m not bashing Remind.com; it’s still an amazing tool and I’m thankful for having used it last year. Remind.com is better used for broadcasting and far easier to use. I would still recommend Remind.com to teachers who are new to BYOD and don’t want to be bothered by messages from students. And if I were doing an LTO, I would prefer Remind.com if I wasn’t around very long. However, I feel that given the factors that I work with where I am, Class Messenger is definitely going to be very popular with my classes this year!
I’m just not looking forward to paying my phone bill this month.
*There are a number of reasons that this happens. Sometimes kids use more data than they’re suppose to and their parents cut off their plans. Other times, the bill does not get paid on time and the service provider discontinues the service. Needless to say, this happens way more frequently than one would expect.
**For the first two weeks, I allow them to tether and use my data to download. I’ve had many promises that they’ll “do it when they get home”, but I’ve only had a couple of people follow through with this promise.