In my websurfing through the myriad of tools available out there for savy early adopters, I managed to run across a great post by Steve Anderson over at Blogging About the Web 2.0 Connected Classroom. He writes about a number of different topics that relate to exactly what I have been searching for over the past few months — Web 2.0 tools to make my life as a teacher easier and to also help to engage my students more in class on our content and our assignments.
So below I have re-posted Steve’s review of a new service called ClassParrot that allows teachers to text message students and parents without ever exchanging numbers. So read on and if you find it interesting and would like to know more, click this link over to the original post and be sure to use the link at the bottom for an additional 200 credits!
BRING ON THE TEXT MESSAGES WITH CLASS PARROT
By Steve Anderson
ClassParrot is a relatively new service that allows teachers and students/parents exchange text messages without exchanging numbers. Here is how it works. You as the teacher create a free account. Once you have the account you create a class. Now, the class name is important because it was will be attached to every text so it is important to choose something everyone will recognize.
Then you have to decide if Parents/Students will be able to reply. That is what sets ClassParrot apart. If you allow this anyone who subscribes can reply. But, what is great is you can turn it off if you don’t want this feature but you can only set it up when you create your class.
Anyway, now that you have a class you will get a unique number and code to text too. This is what you give to students. The number they will be texting to is not your phone number, rather it is a number that is generated by ClassParrot and assigned to your class. When the students reply they then follow the series of texts they get to give their name so the teacher knows who they are. In your class account you can see who is subscribed by name and if need be you can delete someone. But again, no other information is there. No phone number, email address, anything.
Once all the set up is over then you can begin sending messages. Everytime you want to send a message you log into your ClassParrot dashboard and send your message. But you can also send a poll. You decide the question and what responses you want to get back. The default is yes/no but you can change this to anything and have more than 2 responses. They have to respond with one of the choices and you can see those responses come in under your History. That is also where you can read replies to your messages (if you set that up.)
Ok, so yes, ClassParrot is free. But…it works on credits. When you sign up you get 500 credits. And each month you get 200 more. It costs 1 credit to send a message or a poll. And it costs 1 credit each time someone replies. An unlimited plan is $9 bucks so not too bad but I know budgets are tight. If you simply turned off the reply feature and just used it to broadcast you would probably never need to pay. You have to decide what is going to work best for you.
ClassParrot could be a great service if you want to help classes keep up with assignments or dates. Or for coaches/sponsors who have afterschool activities where it might be great to keep parents informed of schedule changes or what have you.