Thursday, August 14, 2014

Remind: Uses, Fears and the Future

Remind (formerly Remind101) has been gaining tremendous popularity in the past year - and for good reason. This platform is a must for faculty, teams, and large groups. Since first joining, the free service has continually made it easier for parents and students to sign up for "classes" and receive timely information.

Last autumn, I took the Gahanna Lincoln H.S. Orchestra to Chicago and we used Remind to communicate with students while on the buses, in the hotel and walking with chaperones downtown. This was invaluable tool to maintain a flow of time-sensitive information to the students. It also kept parents at home abreast of happenings while their students were away.

One of the many benefits of Remind is that students become "informants" to their peers who may not own a phone with text messaging features. This has improved accountability in various ways in my classes. In fact, if I happen to forget about my "Week at a Glance" reminder (sent on Sundays) I hear about it the next day from students. "Where was the text, Mr. Dengel?" What started as a courtesy, in some ways, has become an expectation. As more parents and students gain familiarity with this tool and an increased number of teachers begin utilizing this service in their communications, I do have a concern.

As educators, we must be cognizant not to become overzealous with Remind. Sending only the most vital information at appropriate times is critical: otherwise, this tool becomes a thorn in individuals' sides. Imagine for a moment that a student has seven teachers and one coach using Remind. If these teachers send one text each day during the work week (a bad idea in itself), the information housed within these 40 weekly messages would lose the attention and follow-through they deserve. Although students can receive hundreds of texts each day from their friends, receiving Reminds from teachers do not garnish the same appeal.

Be judicious in your Remind-ing, and be sure to also use other viable social networks to communicate.

While I am on that point: Facebook is dead to our students. Few use it. Too many "old people" have crashed the party. It's just not cool anymore. On the other hand, parents love it! Twitter is in the process of dying. Too many adults and teachers are using it for professional development and connecting with brands. Fellow "Old people," congrats! We've infiltrated another social media platform! Students have moved on to Instagram and others.

If we've learned anything, tech-interfaces change quickly. Indeed, a few years ago I thought texting was pointless. Just call someone for heaven's sake! Now students have "phone anxiety." It's true. And adults use it as a primary means to communicate with their busy children, students - and spouses. The question now is ... what is the future of Remind? How long will texting be around? What other interfaces are out there, and/or being developed? What would that even look like?

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