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How to engage students through mobile: examples of success

Schools have begun again which means classrooms are filled students the teachers need to motivate. All these students have one thing in common: (almost) each of them owns a smartphone with which the teacher has to compete for attention. But isn’t the mobile phone actually a profound opportunity to reach and engage students?

Mobile use amongst students

In 2016, almost 97,7% of Dutch students between the ages of 12 and 25 years owned a mobile phone or smartphone. It seems that -in this mobile first era- it is only a matter of time before we reach the 100%. Yet, the use of mobile phones is a major annoyance for teachers. Does that mean you have to ban phones from the classroom, or can we make use of this statistic and adopt the mobile phone in teaching strategies?

The smartphone as an educational tool is in fact already making its way into schooling. Besides the many educational apps that are available (for free), the mobile phone also offers the possibilities to interactively pose group questions, serves as an extra source of information and allows you to engage students outside of class. Here, you’ll find some examples of mobile applications used to improve study results. 

Mobile phones in primary school

Even though the number of smartphones is growing amongst kids, in primary school the mobile phone is mostly of use to parents/caretakers. For example, schools can set up triggers via the SMS Gateway after which SMS messages are sent automatically. Such messages can be sent whenever a student is late or absent. Using SMS, you can ask the parent to confirm the child’s absence and state the reason, without having to call them. This is an easy way to save time and money.

And when, for instance, a parent-teacher meeting is organised, you can invite parents via SMS and have them choose a time-slot by simply replying. Or you can automatically inform parents when new grades have come in. This way, it takes minimum effort to keep parents fully informed on their child(ren)'s progress. 

Inform parents of high school students through mobile

High school is typically a time in which it can be hard for parents to keep track of their children’s performance in school. Especially for their parents , mobile applications in education can be a great help to guard progress and improve results.

Just like primary schools, high schools can share students' study results with their parents (if the students are younger than 18 or have given permission to do so). This also applies to the given examples in which the parent is asked to confirm and explain a student’s absence, invitations for parent-teacher meetings and other school-related activities, as well as announcements for upcoming exams. This way you can actively keep parents involved in the student’s progress so they can support them from home. 

Push instead of, or combined with, SMS

Push messaging is a cheaper alternative to SMS messaging. When your school has its own app, you can put the examples in this article into practice with push as well. Better yet, it is possible to use SMS as a back-up for push messages. If the student doesn’t have your app installed or is temporarily offline, he’ll still receive your message but via SMS. This way, you can be certain that your messages reach their audience.

Direct contact in college

For colleges and universities, the smartphone has another value than for younger students. If you want to reach your students fast, targeted and successfully, the mobile phone provides a solution that surpasses the results of channels like email or a student portal. With SMS, you’ll reach the student from his pocket, which means no message should go unnoticed.

For example, you can send out an SMS notification whenever a class is canceled, when a classroom has changed, when new grades are uploaded or when students can enroll for new classes or exams. By adding landing pages to personalized SMS messages, students can check their schedules and organize their enrollments.

Besides SMS for notifications or interactive communication, the smartphone also holds opportunities to improve the student services’ reach. Where many schools still rely on a physical desk, telephony and email to answer student questions, this can also be done more easily using the smartphone. For example with Customer Contact tool, you can chat with the student via all available social messaging apps from one clear dashboard. Whether a person sends you a message via Facebook Messenger, Telegram, SMS, or Twitter: you’re in direct contact with all students on all channels. Also, you will have all the students' data within your reach so you can offer improved services. 

Student authentication using the mobile phone

Besides being a communication tool, the mobile phone is a valuable authentication tool. Especially for colleges and universities, yet also for high schools, the smartphone can significantly increase data security. Even though being repeatedly proven that a login session with just username and password isn’t enough to shield yourself from hackers, there are still many online portals without a second layer of authentication.

A (smart)phone as an extra layer of security is easily added. With each login session on the student portal, you can automatically send out a numeric code to the user’s phone. Only if this code is entered correctly, does the login process finish and the user can access the restricted data. And now, using the CM Authenticator app, this process is made even easier. If someone starts a login session, the app will show a request on the student's phone to either allow or decline this session. This method ensures the login session is done by the student himself. (Update: the CM Authenticator app was discontinued at the end of '19. Please refer to OTP via SMS).

Through CM’s online platform, you can easily send SMS messages. Moreover, you can request your own long number, so you can also receive messages for one-on-one interaction with your students and their parents. Send your first SMS messages for free now or contact us to learn more about why and how to use SMS and Push messaging. 

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