Spreading the Word: Teachers use new forms of communication to remind, inform students


Meredith Strickland, Staff Writer

It’s a typical Sunday night, and you’re finishing up the homework you procrastinated on all weekend long.
Your phone rings, and you read the message — it’s a text from your English Language Arts teacher reminding you about a quiz tomorrow.
However, your teacher isn’t directly texting you, but rather using a Remind101 account number.
Remind101 is a website that allows groups to contact each other via text and email without revealing personal phone numbers. Unlike usual text messages, Remind101 does not allow students to reply to the text a teacher sends.
ELA teacher Ryan Mahoney uses the website to deliver messages to his classes about upcoming assignments and deadlines. He said he thinks it has been successful so far.
“I use Remind101 because, whether we like it or not, students communicate mostly with their mobile devices in 2013-14,” Mahoney said. “We can’t pretend like students won’t need to know how to communicate with their mobile devices and through social media. I use it in order to communicate with the students in the most appropriate and efficient manner possible while also keeping clear barriers between myself and the students.”
Mahoney also has a Twitter account and a Remind101 group for girls basketball to keep in touch for upcoming events.
Students from Mahoney’s class receive text messages in advance of certain events coming up.
“I like Remind101 because if you forget [deadlines], he reminds you,” sophomore Tyler Maupin said. “It’s helpful.”
Other Blue Valley teachers use different forms of social media to communicate with their students.
Math teacher Jonathan Jost said Twitter is a large social media site many teenagers use to keep up with their friends, but he uses it along with SchoolCenter to communicate with students.
“I do like the fact that if a student has a question, they can just post to my Twitter, and I can see it,” Jost said. “I think it is probably the best way I can communicate with students. They are already on it all of the time, and it is so easy for me to use.”
Jost posts every homework assignment on Twitter for his student followers to check on if they ever forgot or were absent.
“I find it helpful [when Jost uses Twitter],” sophomore Gracie Goheen said. “And, he posts funny things. I missed school one time, so I just checked Twitter.”
Both Mahoney and Jost said they do not believe teachers should be required to use a program besides SchoolCenter but think using social media is a great tool to help students learn about responsibility.
Moodle is an installed online website teachers may use to deliver different assignments to students. Students will also be eligible to turn in essays or assignments to teachers through Moodle.
Another form of connection for teachers and students is Edmodo. Edmodo is a website and application for mobile devices that allows for connection by posts. On Edmodo, students can see their grades and progress.
Edmodo is similar to Facebook, not only in the way it works, but also the setup.
Social Studies teacher Brian Mowry uses Edmodo to keep students aware of upcoming deadlines and to communicate.
“Edmodo is a website that connects,” Mowry said. “It connects teachers. I can collaborate with [teachers] and find good resources from their stuff.”