Monday, January 14, 2019

Free Alternatives to Remind - Spoiler Alert! They're Limited

This morning the educational technology community was buzzing with the news that Remind is going to stop offering free text message delivery to those users who use Verizon Wireless. This follows a similar move earlier this year related to Bell and Rogers subscribers in Canada. As I explained here and in the following video, the free alternatives to Remind's SMS delivery are going to be limited because Verizon's policy change is going to affect any other service that operates like Remind does.

All that said, here are the alternatives to using Remind's SMS service if you, your students, or your students' parents have phones on Verizon.

Just use Remind's in-app notifications and email notifications. This would require that you convince students and parents to install the app and allow notifications. This is probably the least disruptive of your options for the remainder of the school year because at least you won't be switching to an entirely new service.

If you are already using ClassDojo for portfolios or behavior tracking, this might be the time to start using ClassDojo's in-app messaging tool (this is just an in-app notification, not an SMS delivery).

More than a few people have asked me about Google Voice today. You could use Google Voice to send text messages to a list of numbers from your computer. And you can create a free Google Voice number that is different from your personal cell phone. Eight years ago I actually did that I stopped after a few weeks because it created a minefield of privacy concerns. So I don't recommend this option.

Google Classroom in-app notifications can be good for sending updates to students. But like Remind and ClassDojo, it would require getting students to install the Google Classroom mobile app and then enabling notifications if you want them to see updates in a timely manner.

The bottom line is that Verizon's policy change is going to affect how Remind and companies like it operate. To clarify, Remind users who are currently on a paid school-wide or district-wide plan will not be affected by this change. This change, for now, applies to users of the free Remind service.

A Huge Change Coming to Remind - No More Texts for Verizon Subscribers

Many of us woke up to an announcement from Remind that they are going to discontinue text message delivery for teachers, students, and parents who use Verizon Wireless services. As is explained here, Verizon has increased the fee it charges Remind to deliver text messages. That fee will cost Remind eleven times more than it currently does. Therefore, on January 28th Remind will stop delivering text messages to Verizon wireless subscribers.

To be clear, Remind is not shutting down or discontinuing text message delivery on other wireless carriers in the United States. This only affects those who use Verizon wireless services. But as Verizon is one of the two dominant wireless carriers in the U.S. there is a good chance that this could impact 50% or more of the people connected to your Remind account.

If you, your students, or your students' parents use Remind and Verizon wireless, the in-app push notifications will still work and will be your only option for mobile notifications other than email. You can get the Remind Android app here and the Remind iPhone app here. Information about enabling push notifications and email notifications is available here.

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