I heard the story in passing on NPR this morning: teachers are finding more examples of "texting lingo" in students. I can't find a link to the news item and admittedly I was only half-listening. Here's a version of the story on a local radio station -- yet another look at the damage that text-messaging might have on students' literacy.

It's a familiar refrain. But I am not at all convinced that SMS and texting in and of themselves are really something we should condemn. Like it or not, it is the communication platform kids use. 75% of children age 12 to 17 own cellphones. And more than voice, more than email, kids communicate via text-messaging.

Rather than seeing texting as the bane of our educational efforts, we should ask how can we take advantage of the tool. How can we open communication between home and school and provide students with an "always on" mobile learning experience (and one that doesn't assume everyone has an iPhone)?

Here are 3 text-messaging apps that demonstrate how texting can be used in an academic setting: sends email and text alerts to remind students of impending test and assignment deadlines. Teachers can input their syllabus information and students can subscribe to get to those alerts. Or, students can upload their own data. Then those in their classes can subscribe to those courses. It's an easy way to get the quick "heads-up" that that 20 page paper you were supposedly working on all semester is due... tomorrow.


StudyBoost uses text- and instant-messaging as flash cards, of sorts, sending students questions via their mobile phones. Students can upload their study guides and question-sets or select from a pre-set group of questions on a particular topic. Then StudyBoost uses SMS and IM to quiz the students. Notes are also shareable between friends, and students can search the database for notes for their classes or schools.

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere aims to replace expensive classroom response systems -- "clickers" -- with its audience response product, which it makes available for free for classes with up to 32 students per section. Poll Everywhere recognizes that texting fees can be a hurdle to adoption and makes a mobile browser accessible form for responses as well so students can avoid messaging fees. The product can be integrated with teachers' presentation software for display of real-time results.

I'd love to hear about more texting resources that folks can recommend.

Audrey Watters


Hack Education

The History of the Future of Education Technology

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