Teaching Tip: Let your students text you

This tip is based on feedback from 338 students across four Los Angeles college campuses.

88% of the students surveyed agreed with the statement, “If all of my professors used Remind, I’d do better in college.”

Remind is a free website that allows instructors to reach their students via text message (and allows students to reach teachers in the same manner).

Through the app, the instructor’s number is anonymized so your privacy is protected. The benefits of opening up this line of communication are endless and communicating with students in this natural way integrates the course into their regular lives.

Students will squeeze in their coursework whenever possible and, in many cases, the 2–3 hours they find is their only time available to complete coursework.

Imagine that your student is trying to take an online quiz but he notices that your quiz has an error. If he can only reach you via email, then he may be waiting 2–3 days to receive guidance on how to proceed (long after he’s logged out of the exam). There are a few negative outcomes in this case: the quiz may be due before you reply to his email, the allotted quiz time may run out, or the student may not have time later in the week to return to the quiz. This is, in fact, the most common story that I hear from my students: “My professor didn’t answer my question before the assignment was due so I couldn’t complete it.” Alternatively, this student can text you — taking up 5 minutes of your time — and receive immediate help thus facilitating his continued progress in your course.

With Remind, you can send class-wide announcements to your students’ phones. While you can also do this with Canvas Announcements, students still need to open your announcement in Canvas to read the content of the message (not something they will always be motivated to do). When we text our students, they immediately see the important information that we are trying to convey (in the method of communication that they prefer to use in their regular lives).

With Remind, you can schedule announcements in advance so that students are automatically reminded of major due dates throughout the course. Our students are trying to juggle deadlines across 3–5 classes and deadlines in their workplace. They are also struggling to remember their own doctor’s appointments and kid’s soccer games. Sending alerts straight to students’ phones is a meaningful and effective way to help out our students.

Texting is very often my students’ favorite part of my class. Here is what some of them have to say about it,

“I appreciated the texting SO much! Responses would come in so quickly and made getting answers so much easier.”

“Remind is the best ever, more teachers should adopt it.”

“Being able to text your prof and have easy communication/reminders between them is very helpful.”

“I appreciate being able to easily contact my professor without feeling like I’m bothering them.”

“It helps me get reminded in case I have forgotten that there is an assignment due, with other classes it might get a little tricky.”

“[Remind] helps with me communicating with my professor in a timely manner. Sometimes sending emails takes too long especially when you need an answer to a question immediately.”

“Having [this type of] communication with the professor helps inform and stems communication between us. Office hours can be at an inconvenient time for me and I wouldn’t have much support for my questions.”

Cultural Anthropologist in Los Angeles

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