Saturday, January 24, 2015

Article #7 Do You Text Your Students?

Chipp, Timothy (2014, December 15). Texting With Students Can Profoundly Impact Their Success. Retrieved from

The first thing through my mind when I saw the title, Texting With Students Can Profoundly Impact Their Success, by Timothy Chipp, was how appropriate can it be for a teacher and a student to share phone numbers?
Timothy Chipp wrote about an exploration by Scott Hamm, Chuck Ruot, and Wade Ashby about how to "entice learning outside the typical classroom setting." I completely agree that this is important. Learning doesn’t stop at 3:30 P.M., nor should it. Even after school, our brains keep mulling over that which we have experienced during the day. It never stops. Having reminders, questions, answers, and conversations throughout a school day and after could only help with retention. I often send email reminders to parents of students about an upcoming quiz or test hoping the students will remember to study. Having direct contact with students would be ideal.
Chipp explains that Hamm, Ruot, and Ashby have found that connecting with students on their terms is what is important. “And being on a student level means using text messaging instead of email, Hamm said.” This is what this article is all about. They feel students do not use email, therefore it is ineffective as a tool to communicate with students. Chip quotes Hamm, “They won’t pay as much attention to [an email] as a text message. It’s not on the same level.” The premise is students text, and so should teachers.
I have used email to communicate with some of my students, and the results have been beneficial. Questions about homework or projects get answered and don’t have to wait until the next day in class. Students don’t fall behind. Chipp quotes Ruot, “We can remind them of assignments, seek feedback from the students on some sort of assignment and even quiz them using the texts.” Does he actually take a grade from a text?
However, it is not appropriate for teachers and students to have this connection without some sort of third party (parents, administrators…) as a check and balance. Email works, because the teacher and student are protected. The email account is administered by the district. Any email can be seen by administration if they wish. With cellphones it is not so easy, unless the school district has issued teacher with cellphones in the way private businesses do, and I have never seen that. No one can easily know what communication is going on between two cellphones. For protection, I feel it is important for there to be a responsible third party to oversee the communication.
I have problems with this article. It seems as if Chipp is saying we should text our students, but nowhere does he address the issues that can arise. Nowhere in the article does Chipp mention the age of the students. I assume he is talking about high school or college, but does that make it any more appropriate?
Nowhere does Chipp mention some sort of cellphone buffer. He only mentions that Ashby uses “a simple cellphone application, the texted quiz answers and assignment responses automatically filter into their online Blackboard.” Is that simple cellphone application just SMS, or is it some sort of buffer between cellphones? I know Google Voice was a free service that never seemed to take off. Customers would get a U.S. phone number from Google that acted as a buffer between their real cellphone number (or even home or work number) and a caller. A user could give out the Google generated number to students, parents, or anyone else he or she wanted to, and that user could set which phone would ring - cell, home, work, or any combination of the three - when the called phoned. That way the caller would never have the users real phone number. When the service wasn’t needed between two parties the user could shut the number off for that particular caller, essentially breaking the link. However, Google Voice doesn't address the issue of administration monitoring.
The only time I have shared my phone number with a student was when our concert band and choir went on trip to St. Louis. Each chaperon was responsible for four students. At Six Flags it was not unusual for a student to run off with another group to go on a ride. Knowing which student was with which chaperone could be difficult. Cellphone communication was needed to communicate where and when to meet for dinner or to check in or to leave. Even then I was uncomfortable giving my number to students
I’d thought about using Google Voice for the St. Louis trip, but never got around to setting it up. Even though there are many problems that could arise from having shared phone numbers with students, my worst fear had to do with students prank calling me.
I want to be able to directly send my students messages as a group and individually. What we need is a service listing all our students and staff where we could send messages to groups and individuals. This service needs to include cellphone apps and notifications for easy use. And most importantly it needs to be administered by the district for safety.