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.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

More Free Webinars from the Council for Economic Education

The Council for Economic Education has recently published their  schedule of free professional development webinars that they are hosting in the first five months of 2019. The series begins next week on January 15th and runs weekly (mostly) through May 28th. All of the webinars are scheduled for 7pm Eastern Time. You can register for one webinar or all of the webinars.

There is a fairly wide range of topics scheduled for the professional development webinars offered by the CEE. Some of the topics that jumped out to me as I looked through the list include How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World: Economics and Geography, Daring to Dream: Using Picture Books to Teach Economics, and Lawn Care for Fun and Profit.

On the topic of economics, last fall I updated my popular Life on Minimum Wage simulation game. You can view it here as a Google Doc.

Upcoming Conference Appearances

Throughout the year I conduct many professional development workshops in schools and libraries. Usually, those events are not open for public registration. But I also speak at public conferences about once a month these days (I did a lot more before my children were born). Here's a list of the public events that you can find me at over the next few months. 
  • The BETT Show & TeachMeet BETT - London - January 23rd & 24th
  • SET-BC - Vancouver, BC - February 20th & 21st
  • MACUL - Detroit, MI - March 21st & 22nd
  • TLA - Austin, TX - April 15-18
Send me a note at richardbyrne (at) to learn how you can book me for a school-based workshop or conference presentation. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Doodles, Footnotes, and Literature - The Week in Review

Good morning from frigid Maine where it's -5f and the wind is howling! In other words, it's a perfect day to shovel snow off my roof. That's one of the few winter activities that I don't enjoy. One that I do enjoy is skiing. And with a couple of snow days this week I was able to get out for some skiing. Check out my new blog, Ed Tech Fitness for some pictures and videos of skiing including a picture of my daughter's first time on skis. That was my week outside of this blog. I hope that you had a great first full week of 2019 too.

These were the week's most popular posts:
1. Doodle 4 Google 2019
2. New Themes and Drag & Drop Organization for Google Classroom
3. How to Add Footnotes to Google Docs
4. A Pre-search Checklist for Students
5. Sun, Moon, and Planets 101
6. A Fun Literature Game
7. Customizing Fonts and Emojis in Google Docs

5 Ways to Stay Up to Date With My Work:

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Send an email to richardbyrne (at) book me today.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
TypingClub offers more than 600 typing lessons for kids.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.

Seterra offers a huge selection of geography games for students.