It wasn't long ago that if you stepped foot into almost any classroom and waited long enough, you might hear a teacher say, "Put that phone away, or I will take it."

Today's classrooms look a bit different, and for some, texting has gone from a bothersome source of distraction to a key tool for driving student and parent engagement with school policies and course content.

In particular, as e-learning and distance learning accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educators and administrators have sought out diverse platforms and methods for reaching students and their guardians.

Even as in-person instruction resumes, schools may continue to leverage Short Message Service (SMS) for connecting with learners and their families.

SMS For Students

Text messaging has the potential to reach a large range of students, including those with limited access to technology like laptops or tablets and reliable access to broadband internet. It can also be used to send reminders about school administrative requirements.

Text Messaging School Students in North America

An April 2020 NPR article described multiple educational uses for text messaging spurred by the pandemic. Among the uses identified were reminding students about administrative requirements like handing in forms related to financial assistance.

Educational reminders and prompts integrated with school curricula could be distributed over SMS or over-the-top messaging apps. However, it's important to note that SMS text messaging is likely more ubiquitous and accessible for a wider range of students.

Toward the end of the article, the authors quoted a South Carolina English teacher who pointed out that most of her students were not regularly attending classes held on Google Classroom, but that she felt they would likely be on board with schoolwork delivered over SMS. Text messaging presents an opportunity to help students learn through diverse channels that may be more accessible for a wider variety of learners

International Examples Of Students Using Texting

The same NPR article noted that, in a Ugandan refugee settlement, messaging offered a uniquely useful method for helping inform students and their families about school closures and best practices for protecting against the spread of COVID-19. Messaging had another advantage compared to sharing important information over a loudspeaker in that it allowed for easier translation.

While some of these techniques leverage bespoke platforms, SMS can be accessed by any cell phone user. In an article published by The Indian Express, this was stated as part of the reasoning for the use of SMS to deliver learning activities for students during the country's lockdown.

Schools Engage With Parents Over SMS

Text messaging can also prove to be a useful tool for connecting with students' families, even during times of in-person instruction. This method can be used for encouraging guardians to help their students learn or to leverage their assistance in helping pupils meet policy guidelines.

Encouraging Attendance

A report released by the American Institutes for Research in September 2020 described the results of a study on the effectiveness of text messaging parents to reduce chronic absences for students. It was discovered that adaptive texts — which provided intensified approaches for students who were flagged with ongoing attendance problems — were effective in reducing absenteeism.

SMS can be used to help inform parents about student absences, helping caregivers and guardians take corrective action to keep kids in school.

Promote Learning Together

The NPR article also mentioned that texting parents can help encourage them to play interactive learning games with their children. Whether as part of a coordinated campaign initiated by schools and teachers or even when undertaken as a general reminder, such updates can be useful for initiating conversations between students and family members to drive learning outcomes. Fun suggestions like links to stories to read together or ideas about engaging interactive activities can be used to help parents figure out where to start learning together with their children. Gentle reminders can be just the nudge that some need to sit down together with a good book.

Find Out How Your School Can Leverage Texting For Better Learning Outcomes

Hybrid and distance learning environments have shown us that technology can be a useful tool for promoting learning. The same holds true during in-person instruction. Texting is a great tool because of its relative ubiquity and wide user base among students and parents alike. If you're interested in learning how your school can best use this technology, we're here to help. Reach out to Swift SMS Gateway today to learn more.