Back to School: SMS Doesn’t Have to be a Bad Word
When you think about distractions in the school environment, what comes to mind? Whether it’s a grade school or college, text messaging has to be near the top of the list. As a professor or administrator, it can seem like students are swiping and typing more than reading and writing.
However, from an educator’s perspective, SMS may actually be a positive thing.
The Relationship Between SMS and Schools
If you’re a teacher, professor, or administrator, you know the experience all too well. You walk into class, announce that it’s time to start, and start teaching the lesson you’ve worked so hard to plan. You look up from your notes and begin surveying the students in attendance. Are they even listening? What’s that student in the corner doing? It looks like he’s fidgeting with something under his desk. Oh, of course…it’s his phone!
Every teacher knows that image all too well. The one where a student has both hands tucked under the desk, or behind a book, and has his head turned down in the same direction – only looking up occasionally in hopes of appearing engaged.
It’s this image and these experiences that teachers and administrators have in mind when they hear the word SMS. Why on earth, then, would you want to make SMS more ubiquitous in educational environments? Well, we aren’t necessarily talking about the classroom. We’re talking about other ways in which SMS can be used to promote stronger relationships and experiences for faculty members, students, and their parents.
Six Ways Schools are Using SMS
The benefit of SMS is that it’s versatile. All it takes is a bit of creativity and the right partners and you can turn SMS into a positive asset for your school.
Here are a few specific ways in which schools and universities are using SMS for positive results:
- Emergency Weather Alerts
The traditional methods of sending out inclement weather alerts are no longer as efficient and safe as they could be. Parents no longer rely on radio, TV, or even email to get timely reports. However, they always have their phones with them and tend to open text messages within minutes of receiving them.
Should bad weather force closures, you can use SMS to send out emergency alerts that notify students and parents of closings, delayed starts, or anything else that has to do with these conditions.
- After School Event Alerts
Is practice cancelled after school? Do students need to bring their scripts to play rehearsal? Is there a student government meeting tonight? SMS is a great option for quickly sharing information with large groups of students about what’s happening after school. With one quick message, you can save the hassle of calling students or trying to spread through other mediums.
- Marketing and Advertising
For private schools and universities, marketing and advertising play a major role in attracting students and ensuring enrollment is maximized. With SMS, you can reach out to highly interested parents and ensure you’re staying on the top of their minds. It’s a personal and unique way to cut through the noise they’re exposed to on a daily basis.
- Updates for Parents
Parents always want to know what’s going on with their students, but it isn’t always practical to make phone calls. Phoning every parent with updates takes a lot of time away from other important responsibilities. This is where the value of SMS is fully realized.
With SMS, you can create segmented lists based on things like the student’s academic grade level, gender, class schedule, and extracurricular involvement. This allows you to quickly send out messages to parents of students who meet very specific criteria. Not only does this save time, but it’s also cost-effective in many respects.
- Workplace Communication
SMS isn’t just for sending messages to students and parents. Faculty members and administrators can also get some use out of this convenient tool. Teachers can use SMS to share notes, discuss lesson plans, organize groups, and more. While emails may only be checked a few times per day, smartphones are almost always within reach.
- Student Reminders
Young people simply aren’t well versed in responsibility. It’s easy for them to forget homework assignments, meetings, project deadlines, and events. This is why so many fall behind in school. SMS can be used to send out time sensitive reminders that are sure to be seen.
One situation in which student reminders are extremely valuable is in the months between finishing secondary school or high school and starting university. During this period of time, something called “student melt” occurs. In one study, up to 40 percent of low-income students who were accepted into a university program in the spring never showed up for class in the fall.
“Their high school counselors aren’t there for them anymore, and they’re not yet connected with their colleges,” says Benjamin Castleman, author of a book on the topic of how SMS can be used to enhance education. “They’re cut off from professional support, balancing jobs and family commitments, and at the same time they’re facing these important, onerous tasks like completing registration and housing forms and finalizing financial aid and loans.”
With simple SMS reminders, Castleman believes schools could reduce some of this melt and keep more students on track.
Contact OpenMarket Today
At OpenMarket, we understand the value of SMS, and many organizations are finally beginning to understand that this powerful mode of communication can be leveraged for positive results. And when they do so, they’re turning to us. Contact us today for more information!