Maybe it is because I was the last person I know to get a cell phone. Perhaps I inherited the curmudgeon gene that runs deep in my family. Perhaps it is because I am a sad, lonely man without many friends (the faint sound of violins play in the background).
Regardless of the reason, I never got into texting very much. I don’t get many texts and I send even fewer. But, guess along with this rock music everyone seems to be listening to these days, texting is all the rage. So much so that I read of one case where a pair of teenagers got lost and texted desperately for help, never thinking to dial 911.
In this era of instant communication, voicemails are often ignored by parents, snail mail is tossed in the trash, and only 22% of emails are ever opened. What do people respond to? Well, according to the online service Class Parrot, 98% of text messages are opened. Many homes don’t have the money for Internet access, but nearly all have cell phones.
But how does a teacher begin texting? Most teachers are not issued a company cell phone and most teachers would never dream of giving out their personal phone number. I know that some teaches swear by it, but even teachers who are up until 10:00 every night grading need some alone time. Also, texting students has always been a moral grey area; it’s a circle of intimacy that I personally don’t feel comfortable crossing along with my Facebook profile and being called by my first name
The question is, how do we reach a population that communicates by texting while still maintaining professional and ethical boundaries? Thankfully with every problem comes a solution.
Class Parrot is a free service, currently in beta testing, that allows parents and students to text with teachers without the teacher needing a cell phone. A teacher simply sets up an account and gives out a code to their students and parents. The students and parents text the code to the Class Parrot number and instantly the teacher can send and receive texts to the community without ever knowing anyone’s number. Privacy for all parties is ensured.
When could this be useful? Only a million times a day! Send a text to parent that a permission slip is coming home, remind a student about an assignment, receive a text request for homework help that you answer at your convenience.
This is another example of a great company whose time has come, I have only just begun using this service, but I am sure it will find a place in my online arsenal along with wordpress.com and Spelling City.