When it comes to communicating with students or potential students, your post-secondary institution needs to be able to do more than just email large amounts of information to all students at once. While this information may be necessary for all students, that doesn’t mean your communication should end there.
Students, especially new students, have questions: lots of them. And, sifting through mountains of paper is not the most ideal way for them to get answers. Instead, you should advocate for a strong two-way communication flow with students to ensure that there are no knowledge gaps.
The ubiquity of the cell phone in school yards and college campuses is useful to educators who need to communicate regularly with a large number of students throughout the year. What used to be achieved by mass email blasts, phone trees and pamphleteering has been made faster, easier and cheaper via SMS messaging. With such a high 'open' rate, text messages are viewed by more of their target audience than any other form of mass communication, and their use has sparked a revolution felt across small-town elementary schools and metropolitan of high academia.
Whether it's an emergency alert or an event reminder, text blasts are the quickest way to inform a large group. Over 80 percent adults use their cell phone to text and this number only gets higher which makes texting the perfect mode to start a two-way communication with your students.
SMS messaging is a growing trend, especially amongst millennial, and being able to freely ask questions and get quick answers is one way to engage your students, provide them with needed information, and set yourself apart from other options for potential students.
A number of schools have already adopted bulk SMS messaging as the go-to solution. By using a bulk SMS platform, they can send out one message to all relevant parties instantly. High schools can inform parents directly that their child will be returning home with information from the school regarding things such as:
- Sporting Events
- Parent/Teacher Meetings
- Outstanding Fees and so on.
The reduction in expenses and man-hours can free up crucial funds for budget-conscious schools. There is less wastage in terms of phone bills and paper used for photocopying, printing and direct mail campaigns. More importantly, parents can be more closely involved in the day to day schooling activities of their children, and stay on top of last minute scheduling changes or event cancellations.
Bulk texting is being used in a range of innovative ways in higher educational institutions too. Colleges and universities are using the technology for a wide range of purposes:
- Notifying students of term dates, exam timetables and other vital information
- Prompting students to make appointments with tutors
- Providing links to grades or course information
- Keeping students up to date regarding AGM and social dates.
Another use for communicating with your students through bulk SMS involves automating the SMS process through an automation platform, which might seem like a daunting task, but it actually lightens your staff’s workload and improves communication with students.
Here’s how it works: After selecting an automation platform with an SMS messaging component, you would request a keyword. These are really handy short phrases that your students can text into a short code to ask you questions. For example, your keyword may be EDU and students could text that to your short code (an easy-to-remember six-digit number) 12345. Texting that number with your short code would opt those students in for your SMS communications, thus automatically capturing their explicit consent and ensuring your compliance.
From here, you would need to create pre-written content that would answer any foreseeable questions students or potential students may have. Keep in mind that, with SMS, you are limited to 160 characters. With fraternities, sororities and other student bodies also benefiting from the technology, the future of schools and SMS messaging looks to be a two-way street serving both educators and the educated.