By Ish Stabosz
Center for Creative Instruction & Technology
Delaware Technical Community College
We’ve all been there. It’s early in spring semester, and the first snow storm hits (because for some reason, February counts as spring in academia). You wake up to an automated phone call telling you that the college is closed, and the first thing that enters your mind after groaning at the thought of shoveling your driveway is the state of your lesson plans. How are you going to keep your students prepared for Thursday’s class if you don’t get to see them today?
It takes some clever thinking, but you figure it all out. You shoot a quick video lesson using screencast-o-matic, you come up with a few exercises that students can do on their own for reinforcement, and you even set up a meeting with Big Blue Button so that students can beam in for guidance if they need it. You lay out all the instructions for them on Blackboard and send out an email to the entire class letting them know the snow day back up plan. And, you get this all done before 6:00 A.M. and your first cup of coffee.
Come Thursday, you meet your students in class and they all look well-rested and relaxed from a nice day off. You ask them to take out their work so you can get started with today’s lesson, and they just stare at you. “What work?” their blank faces exclaim without uttering a word. Your interrogation begins. “Didn’t anyone check their email? Didn’t anyone check Blackboard?”
That’s when it hits you. Email is so yesterday. Email is how dinosaurs communicate with each other. The new medium is texting. But you can’t text your students, can you? You don’t want them to have your cell number, and they probably don’t want you to have theirs.
Enter Remind 101, a free and secure way to send text messages. Best of all, it was specifically created for teachers to communicate with their students, so it’s got all of your concerns in mind. Students never see your cell number and you never see theirs. Messages are one way, so students can’t even reply back. An even cooler feature is that you can schedule texts ahead of time, so theoretically you could remind students about every single assignment. Check out their promo video if you’re interested in learning more.
Next time a snow day hits, do your usual scrambling in the morning, but hold the email. Instead, just send a simple text: “Check Blackboard. No excuses this time.”