As I was looking for new technology devices, I came across this website that offers free technology for teachers. As I was browsing through the articles, I saw a "class pager" link that allows teachers to send text messages to their students and/or parents and guardians cell phones without even knowing each student/teacher/parent/guardian's number. Basically, the teacher goes to the class pager website and clicks on "sign up your class for free." Once you sign up your class, you will get a specific code and you give that code to you students and/or their parents/guardians. When you give your students and their guardians the code, they text the class pager website with the specific code and they are automatically added to the class list. As the teacher, you can send messages either by phone or on the online website.
I think this is a great idea for students and teachers to be more involved in digital communication with one another. In this generation, almost every student and teacher has a cell phone and/or internet access. This is a great way to send last minute messages to your students for either upcoming assignments that are due (reminders), change of classroom location, or any other messages that are appropriate for classroom purposes. As teachers, we all know that students can be forgetful and this is one way that we can help students remember important assignments or information to keep them on top of things at school! Also, it's common that some students get embarrassed when they are asked to answer a question. Class pager allows an option called "realtime" where the students can text the code and answer the question and the teacher can collect the data to see what the students answered. There are so many ways you can use this technology in the classroom and I think it's worth a try even if you only experiment with it once!
With this type of technology, there are some drawbacks. Even though cell phones are very popular, not all of your students may have a phone. However, that's okay. As the teacher, you could make these reminders as an option for your students and parents/guardians. This technology will only benefit them so if they don't want to participate in it, that's okay! Another drawback of this is that you can't send private messages. I feel that's a good thing so that students and teachers can't text things to each other that isn't school appropriate. Once you have the class roster, every message that you send out, it goes to everyone on the list. Another drawback is that many schools don't allow cell phones in the classroom, or even on school grounds. So, if you have a last minute update, not all of the students might get it because of school cell phone policies. Another drawback is that you are only able to sign up for this site for free once. It only allows you to use it for free for your first class and after that, you have to pay a fee. Also, if students only have a limited amount of text they can send or receive, it could cause charges to be made to their bills. But again, this technology could be just an option for students, it doesn't have to be mandatory!
How I would use it in my own classroom:
If I had my own classroom, I would definitely experiment with this. I think it's great that you can send reminders to your students without knowing each other's phone numbers and since your messages are sent to everyone on the roster, you don't have to worry about inappropriate messages being sent between you and the student, you and the parent or guardian, or from student to student. It's very safe and classroom friendly! I would make this an option for students whether or not they want to receive updates or reminders. If not, it's their loss and hopefully they can remember everything! If I would send out updates, I would also include an alternative note such as an email or note on the classroom door if there are changes for the day. I would also make reminders the day before something is due in person during classroom. However, I think this idea is very clever and I would love to see how it works. If only I had my own classroom to try it out!
Link to where I found free technology for teachers:
Link to website for signing up:
Link to ways you can utilize this technology:
Byrne, Richard. "Class Pager-Text Your Class." Free Technology for Teachers-Free Resources and Lesson Plans for Teaching with Technology. Web. 1 Dec. 2011.