I think my cell phone, or more aptly, my Blackberry is attached to my body. It’s the one thing I have with me 24-7. Yes, I practically sleep with it. And no, the person on the other side of the bed doesn’t think too kindly of my Blackberry beeping in the middle of the night. But I can’t help it. I feel disconnected without it. It’s my connection to the outside world.
I was wondering if others felt the same way about their cell phones as I do. Mostly I wondered about my students. People are always saying that our students are tech savvy, digital natives, socially connected on the web. Well, I don’t see it. In my online class this summer, only half of my students gave me a cell phone number when I asked for one. Is it possible they don’t all have cell phones? And when I introduced the TextMarks widget to them on the course blog, not one was interested. However, I just discovered I have two subscribers! Yeah!
Below is an example of the widget:
The widget allows for people to type in their cellphone to subscribe to my TextMark. The widget also shows the latest update. The way I’d planned to use text messaging in this class was a way to update students 1-2 daily about new posts to the class blog and other class announcements. For instance, we just had a horrible start to our summer session because Blackboard was not working properly. Students couldn’t get in to see what was going on in the class. To keep students on task, I started putting content on the course blog. Once I got a good chunk of stuff on there, I’d add a TextMark alert saying it was now available on the blog. I also sent a TextMark alert saying when Bb was going down and when it was going to back up.
Another good use for this service is to alert students to a particularly good discussion that could use some more input. And if students are subscribed, how can they forget about your class when they’re getting daily texts? Just one or two; I don’t want to be annoying.