ClassParrot.com describes itself as a safe and hassle-free way for teachers and students to communicate via text message. Conversations are managed through the ClassParrot teacher interface, but all student cell numbers are hidden, thus protecting their privacy and the liability of the teacher. Cellphone use in school is a hotly debated topic (of which I've weighed in on either side both here and here), so some may question why ClassParrot is even needed in the first place. After all, can't teachers use social networking sites like Ning and Edmodo, classroom blogs, or even traditional email correspondence to keep students informed? Technically yes. But ClassParrot leads off its FAQ page with a pretty powerful statistic – Open rate for email is 22%; open rate for text messages is 98%. A similar caveat is true about blogs and social spaces – they're only effective when students decide to visit them.
Pros of ClassParrot
- Students can be instantly notified of upcoming assignments, dates, events, etc. in a way that is natural to them but also safe and private. Teachers even have the option to schedule texts to be sent out automatically.
- All correspondence between the teacher and students in logged on site. This electronic paper trail is a nice CYA feature for teachers concerned about contact with students beyond the classroom walls.
- ClassParrot also include a polling feature. Technically, the service could be used as a long distance student response system in reverse.
Cons of ClassParrot
- If a student does not have a cell phone or a plan that allows text messaging, you're kind of out of luck. There is no way for a student to retrieve messages via the website. This may be an equity issue depending on the number of students without access and how the service is used by the teacher.
- Students have the ability to reply back to messages. If this was an option that could be toggled more teachers might be willing to give ClassParrot a try.
- The free account of ClassParrot only comes with 500 texts. This may seem like a lot on first glance, but every recipient counts as a credit; if you have a group of 100 students you can only text five messages before the free trial runs out. Plus, each returning student message counts against the 500 total as well. With that said, the plan with unlimited messages is only 9 bucks a month.
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