Text Messages - The Least Common Denominator in the Classroom

Over the past two or three weeks I have noticed something really interesting. I got in contact with or read about at least six startups that were all working on kind of the same project: connecting teachers, students and parents via text messages. Those startups are namely SnappSchool, remind101, ClassParrot, ClassPager, Text2Teach and TruantToday


Text messages, the old fashioned way of sharing status updated before Twitter (which interestingly enough started off as text message based service), Facebook, Google+ or group messaging apps. From inside the tech bubble this seems like an odd step back into the stone age. From the real world perspective it makes total sense. 

A couple of days ago Darien Brown, co-founder and CEO of Wander (formerly YongoPal) shared an interesting insight on Twitter. 

“By end of this month, 50% of Koreans will be smartphone users.”

This is pretty interesting taking into consideration that South Korea is always ahead in terms of tech adoption. According to a report by eMarketer earlier this year, smartphone adoption amongst mobile phone users will reach 73.3 million people in the US by the end of 2011. 

According to the CTIA the total number of users of mobile phones in the US is 327,6 million which leaves us with more than 250 million people who own a mobile phone, e.g. people who can receive and send text messages but are not able to use smart phone applications, may it be iOS or Android. 

And as smartphones are still rather expensive, let alone the data plans attached to them, it is clear that most kids who have a mobile phone won’t be smartphone users. 

In the media coverage related to Steve Job’s passing an informative video surfaced that explains the idea behind those new education startups that focus on the technology most students have at hand. In the video embedded below Jobs says:

“You have to start with the customer experience and start working backwards to the technology.”

Of course, it is amazing what can be done on smartphones and tablet devices but the reality is still that most students don’t posses one of these devices. A teacher quote on remind101’s website says it best

“I teach 103 students and am able to access over 90% of them through this service.”

That means services based on text messages work for everybody or almost. The problem with education apps that are build for smartphones is to figure out on which of the major platforms to launch first. iOS or Android. And later on, when two versions are available how to connect both of them to one classroom environment. Text message work on all devices.

I think developed countries are very quick in labeling a technology as old-fashioned these days. We don’t test out the borders anymore. In India entire social networks work via text messages, for example SMS Gupshup and the famous mobile service M-Pesa out of Kenya changed the way people receive their loans and make their payments.

Picture: Morguefile user kahle

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

Videos
  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

Carl Sagan on why he liked smoking marijuana

Carl Sagan liked to smoke weed. His essay on why is fascinating.

Photo: Photo by Robert Nelson on Unsplash / Big Think
Mind & Brain
  • Carl Sagan was a life long marijuana user and closeted advocate of legalization.
  • He once wrote an anonymous essay on the effects it had on his life and why he felt it should be legalized.
  • His insights will be vital as many societies begin to legalize marijuana.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less