9 of 366 Geeky Things: Twitter SMS Follow

Do you have a way to communicate for free with big groups of people in an instant?

Do you ever wish you could remind your students about their homework or tell them something you forgot to tell them during class?

Did you ever think about using Twitter?

Before you protest and tell me that Twitter is just a bunch of mindless, ego-driven babbling, let me just tell you that it is a communication tool and, just like every other one that exists, you can use it for your own purposes.

For me, I don’t use it for that kind of stuff.

And for my students, many of whom do not have Twitter accounts or smartphones, I use it to communicate what’s important and timely. What to bring to class. What’s due. What to do for homework. Quick messages (between classes only!) about important items got left in my classroom (so it can be reunited with its owner before the end of the school day).

So my students do not use Twitter or have smartphones, but better than 75% of my students have phones with unlimiting texting. They rarely are separated from their phones, for better or for worse.

Twitter allows for you to follow tweets without actually having Twitter – by subscribing to an account via SMS.

To do it is as easy as sending a message:

Text the words “FOLLOW [account name]” to 40404.

That’s it.

(When the end of the year rolls around, I’ll walk them through texting “UNFOLLOW [account name] to 40404 to turn it off.)

Instantaneously my students start receiving my tweets for their class to their phone.

You’d think they’d complain that it’s intrusive, but they seem to like it. Some come in and complain that they haven’t gotten an early morning message (I usually schedule them with Hootsuite to be sent at 6:30 AM – at their collective request. I think those tweets serve as alarms for some of them.).

They can’t text messages back to me via that number (it’s Twitter’s number), but they have other ways to get information or questions to me if they need to do so.

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