Three years of student polling data yields some overwhelming results: If you need to get in touch with a student, text message is the way to go, and email is not. Below are the results of my informal/not-that-scientific poll of about 150 of students over the past three years.
A Generation Gap
That students are best reached via text message isn’t surprising. My family, my friends, everyone I know is best reached by text message–why should students be any different. What I do find surprising, however, is just how little emphasis students today put on email. Email is, in most cases for me, just as efficient a means of reaching a friend or family member as texting. But for students, email is a distant afterthought. Significantly more students ranked Facebook as a better means of immediate communication than email. Even calling a landline was ranked higher. In short: adults are tightly connected to their email inboxes, teenagers are not.
Teachers Can Text Students
There are a bunch of reasons why a teacher would need to reach their students after hours. I text my student to let them know the clouds have rolled in an canceled our Astronomy observation night, to give students timely reminders about class logistics, and to run bonus trivia challenges that extend learning beyond the classroom. So how do you go about texting your students? They probably don’t want you to know their cell phone number, and you probably don’t want them to know yours. Solution: Remind101. Remind101 is a free and amazingly easy to use service that allows teachers to send text messages to their classes. Remind101 serves as an intermediary between teacher and student, so no phone numbers need be shared. And the platform allows you to text from your phone or from the web, and allows you to schedule messages to be sent at whatever future time you specify. Remind101 just might be my favorite EdTech tool I’ve discovered over the past few years.