Few educators realize the role technology can play when it comes to engaging parents.

Even if they don’t have Internet access, most parents have access to cell phones. However, in many cases, most simply use their phone as a calling and texting device. It’s time to change that! There is so much more you can do with free and easy-to-use resources that will help you coordinate and connect with parents in powerful and exciting ways.

1.  Mass texting

Services like Remind101 provide a safe, one-way, mass text messaging system created specifically for use in education. It keeps your phone number, and the phone numbers of your subscribers private, stores all of your sent messages, and it’s free to use. Once the school’s parent coordinator signs up and creates a parent list, parents are able to sign up with one text or e-mail. Because of the convenience of sending messages directly to phones, Remind101 is a perfect tool for announcements and reminders such as school holidays, school events, photo days, fundraising events, testing days and more.

Places like New York City public schools are using  Mobile Commons, another mass texting service to keep families informed with text messages in English or Spanish throughout the school year. Mayor Michael Bloomberg touted the program as a crucial step in “doing more to make sure parents have the information they need to help their children succeed — even when they are on the go.”

2. ClassPager

Connect with parents and engage students with polls, exit tickets, event reminders and more using ClassPager. ClassPager allows parents and students to use their own devices (phones, tablets, laptops or other computers) to respond to questions or surveys that the teachers designs with simple text messaging. Questions can be both open response and multiple choice.

Amar Vedi, an algebra and statistics teacher at Vance High School in North Carolina, uses ClassPager to assign homework, send out reminders, share links to educational videos and answer questions. In many cases, this is sent not only to the students, but to the parents as well to keep them apprised of what is taking place in his classroom.

Continue reading how parents and teachers engage with the help of technology.

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