Tech Trumps® Friday Focus: Remind - reach students and parents where they are

Last week BESA, the British Educational Suppliers Association, published a report on how the impact of edtech is currently measured in the classroom. It contains some interesting reading, for example that teachers are the most valued source when it comes to edtech recommendations, but one thing that struck me was a finding from primary school teachers that the edtech solution most in demand was parental communications. With that in mind, and thinking of my own plans to create a set of Tech Trumps® for primary school teachers, I thought I'd focus this Friday on an app designed to help with just this problem - Remind.

What is Remind?

Remind has been created with one thing and one thing alone in mind - to help teachers better communicate with students and parents. It's designed for the US market, and when used there includes free text messaging, but here in the UK you need to use the app or a web browser to access it.

You can create classes within it to organise yourself, and then add students either individually using email, by sharing a special class code, or even with pre-prepared PDFs that you can print out and send - or put into children's bags to take home for their parents. A neat way of getting around that problem of trying to find out parents email addresses - using the PDFs mean they can enter their emails themselves.

Once you've got your classes sorted, it's super easy to send a message either to an individual or to a class, and both the app and the web browser version can set up notifications so you never miss a message. Messages themselves are very simple with no formatting options, but you can add photos, video and files if you like, or even an audio recording if you're using the app. The conversations themselves allow you to add simple emojis as well - which I guess is a bit of a must have feature these days.

One more feature which is a bit special - you can get the app to translate your messages into other languages! Could be very handy if you're working with a multi-cultural class, and some of the parents grasp of English is a little on the weak wide.

How can you use it in education?

Remind has been built specially for education, so unlike some apps hopefully it's use is pretty clear. With it's high score of 8 for Planning, it's most effective when used to create structure for your teaching and keep all those who are involved in a childs learning up to speed on what's going on. That said it's perhaps worth pointing out the key strengths of Remind from a pedagogical perspective:

It can help engagement with your students, keeping them on track with what you want them to study. Like all digital technologies it has the unique affordance of breaking down physical barriers, allowing you to communicate with students at a time and place where you otherwise wouldn't be able to. Used well this can help extend the learning process outside the classroom, and hence improve learning outcomes simply by having your students spend more time learning.

It's two way communication, so not only can it help you engage with your students, but it can also help them engage with you. This has the potential to reduce the impact of misconceptions, as they can very easily check with you simple questions and you can just as easily answer. Less cumbersome than emails, though of course free access to you needs to be carefully balanced with free time for you - everybody needs a break now and again!

Finally it can be used to connect with parents, which of course is why I choose it today, as primary teachers in particular are apparently looking out for apps like this. There's emerging research that suggests this type of connection using digital technologies can have small but positive impacts, and considering the costs of implementation are so low that makes using services like Remind very tempting indeed.

So that's about it for Remind - a dedicated app for connecting with students and parents, that research suggests can have a positive impact on learning outcomes for your students.

Do you have any ideas for using Remind that you'd like to share? Please feel free to add them in the comments!

Would you like your own set of Tech Trumps®?

Do head over to the Tech Trumps® to see Remind and a host of other apps, all rated against the key challenges you're focused on as a teacher. There's an interactive version of the Tech Trumps® to explore, plus a PDF download version for offline use - or you can go old school, and buy a physical pack of cards for only £4.99 plus postage which I'll whisk off to you first class in the next available post :-)

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