While I talk a lot on the TESOL Blog about using technology, I have yet to talk about how to use cell phones as part of your teaching, and that is something I want to start to address in this post.
Cell phones are a really useful tool for teachers because a lot of students use them every day, and studies done in countries like the United States have shown that students, especially teens, often interact more via texting than any other method. I was reminded of this most recently by Dr. Pascarella in a webinar titled Confronting the Challenges of NextGen Learning in the Age of Participatory Culture from the University of Southern California – Rossier. The webinar made me think about how teachers might integrate technology, especially cell phones, into their teaching. That question led me to Remind101.
Remind101 is a website where you can create a free account from which to send text message reminders to your students or their parents. Once you have an account, just set up your classes or groups to make messaging simple. For example, I teach beginner classes in an intensive English program, so one of my groups on the site is called “IEP – Beginners,” and when I send a message, it goes to the whole group. A great thing about the site is that students or parents opt in. If they want to get messages, they simply text a code to a specific phone number, and if they don’t want reminders, they don’t have to sign up.
Another benefit is that you can schedule reminders to be sent out automatically. If you’ve already determined the important dates for the semester or year, you can sit down one afternoon and schedule all the texts you want sent out for that time period, or you can write the messages and send them in real time. Because everything is set up through Remind101, you don’t have to worry about charges when you send out mass texts nor do you have to hand out your personal phone number.
Now this is really just the beginning of how you might want to incorporate cell phone use into your teaching practice. While we all want our students to develop the independence to remember all their homework, assignments, and assessments, friendly reminders aren’t a bad thing either. The best part is that many students, like mine, have their phones with them 24/7 and check them often, which makes texting, rather than e-mailing, for instance, a good method of communication. Learn more about Remind101, read the terms of service carefully, and start texting today.
Do you have ideas on what other ways can educators use Remind101 with their English language learners and/or their families?