In my last post, I discussed a teacher planning app that I enjoy called Planboard (which I highly recommend). In this post I will briefly introduce another app I use regularly called Remind.
Remind is an easy to use messaging app that teachers can employ to contact students, parents, or colleagues individually or in groups and makes use of one piece of technology that most people are more than familiar with: text messaging.
The basic idea is this: the teacher creates a group (called a “class”) and students sign up to become a part of it. Anyone who is a part of the class can be contacted directly or receive group announcements from the teacher, making it a wonderful resource for reminding students of upcoming events or deadlines (hence the name of the app). Now, before you get worried about the issue of having students know your cell phone number, the app works based on a proxy number set up by Remind that students text, meaning that they never know your number and you never know theirs. The app merely provides students a proxy number, which they can add to their contacts under a name such as “Mr. Rowe” or “Geography Class”. By responding through text to a couple of quick commands from this number (such as whether they are a student or parent, and entering a classcode provided by the teacher), students sign up with their name, which is all the teacher will see. Without this feature of Remind, I would be very unlikely to use it, as otherwise it could create significant privacy issues.
For those who do not use texting or would be more comfortable using email, the same setup procedure can accommodate this. The difference is that rather than texting a number to sign up for a class, an email is sent. This is probably more useful when contacting parents. But whether using email or text messaging, the teacher can operate Remind from the app on iphone or android devices, or from a website adding to its usefulness.
Besides class announcements, a student can privately send a message to the teacher (e.g., a question about an assignment or homework) and the teacher can respond without the whole class seeing, which is great for students who may be self-conscious about asking questions in a larger group.
A feature that I really enjoy is the ability to send photos, files, or audio clips as part of a message. I’ve used this to send out additional resources to students that help with review or relevant images that supplement discussion that had occurred during class.
Any announcements sent are instant and are a wonderful way to keep students or parents up to date on what is going on in class or with the school as a whole. A number of my colleagues use Remind at Gander Collegiate and, as such, students have become quite aware of how it works, which makes setup and use so much easier. Setting up a class can be done in a few minutes: a few easy instructions can be put on a whiteboard or printed, which students and parents can follow.
Like any app, there are other features one can discover when exploring how functional the software may be (e.g., there are options for organizing events among group members, like field trips), but I will leave these for you to try, if you feel Remind is something that may be useful in your classroom.