Over the next few posts, I’m planning to share strategies that I recently used for mobile learning (mlearning) and teaching in one of my courses. I hope you find these strategies helpful, and please let me know if you have any questions. In full disclosure, I didn’t come up with some of these ideas. Instead, colleagues, particularly on Twitter, we super helpful in inspiring me or providing some tips on how to get going with a tool or strategy.
In my online course for teachers and library media specialists on integrating the Internet into teaching and learning, we dedicate a unit to mobile learning. In order for this unit to be as authentic as possible, I try to make the unit as mobile as possible. Last year, I used MOBL21, what I consider to be a mobile course management system, and I experimented with deploying a complete unit of instruction through mobile learning.
This year, I planned a four-part approach to the unit, and I hope my experiences would help you as well. While this was used with a graduate course for teacher educators, these strategies are certainly broad and simple enough to work with secondary K-12 students and undergraduate students.
Following Jason Rhode’s recommendation through Twitter, I decided to use Remind101.com as a method to broadcast information and information to my students. Inside Remind101.com, my students registered through their cellphones (or email) by sending a text to phone number (or an email) with a specific code for our course. I was then able to send out SMS text messages to the students from inside Remind101. In the image below, you can see that 15 folks signed up to receive messages, 14 through their phones and 1 through email. It is also possible for students (and parents) to sign up with multiple methods of subscribing, such as mobile and email.
For example, I quickly reminded students about our upcoming webinar that was happening (when I became a little freaked out that only 4 folks had logged in so far). And I also asked students to take photos on two days during our unit and respond by audio on another day during our unit, but I’m going to save those details for a later blog post.
I was also able to schedule upcoming messages to be sent on specific days and times with specific reminders and activities. This was a great way for me when planning out my unit. I had activities that I wanted the students to experience and I had images or evidences that I wanted them to capture during the unit. So, I was able to go ahead and schedule these over time during the unit. You can see the posts I sent in the image above in the lower right side of the screen shot. To be respectful of students and their data plans, I tried to stick with 1 message per day in this unit. However, if I were going to do this through a course or school year, I would probably create a survey early on with Google Forms and ask students about their data plans, so I could send more messages as needed.
One of the protections that I like in Remind101.com and in Class Parrot, a similar service, is that your phone number is kept private from your students (and parents) and their phone numbers (and emails) are kept private from you. The BetaClassroom has some examples and ideas for how she is using it in her classroom as well.
Changes I’d Like to See
There are definitely a couple of changes I’d like to see in Remind101.com, like those mentioned by ProfHacker. First, Remind101 is currently a “push” technology. It’s purpose is to remind folks of things. So, it’s not a two-way communication medium. I would like to see this change so that students (and parents) may be able to respond to a question or comment on an idea through Remind101. This may even be a way for students to answer a question for a knowledge check. Certainly, this may not be needed all of the time, so it might be possible for some posts to be “push” while others may be two-way conversations with participants – possibly just with a checkbox. There could definitely be some moderation by the teachers/professor/facilitator on some posts.
Second, currently, I can only send messages through Remind101.com’s interface. This works well for the scheduling of posts, but I would also like to have off-the-cuff or on-the-fly messages be sent out through my not-so-smart phone. I would definitely like to be able to send out messages in case of emergencies, quick updates, etc.
Remind101.com is new and beta. I think over the next year it will definitely “beef up” as they build out the features and listen to the users. Are you using Remind101.com or another service for group text messaging? What are you using and how are you using it?