As teachers, we understand the importance of building relationships with our students’ parents and staying in constant communication with them.
Except it’s not easy to do it. Other things — like planning lessons, grading papers, and sleeping — get in the way. Even though talking with parents is one of the most important and effective ways to help students, it’s often the first thing to go.
That’s why I like texting, and that’s why I like Kikutext.
Most of my students’ parents welcome texting. I text them, and they text me back. It’s quicker and more convenient than a phone call.
But there are a few problems: (1) That’s a lot of contacts to organize, (2) What if I want to send a group text to all my students’ parents? (3) What if they (or I) don’t want to share my personal phone number?
Kikutext takes care of all those problems.
You sign up for free and get a Kikutext phone number. Parents can sign up by sending a text to that number, or you can invite parents individually. After everything is set up, you can send texts to parents individually or collectively. Parents can also text you back. You manage all your messages online at the Kikutext website. It’s pretty easy.
In addition to being free, Kikutext separates itself from its competitors (among them: Class Parrot, Class Pager, SendHub, WeTxt, and others) by offering a wonderful feature called “Status Reports.”
This one is huge. Status Reports allow you to send automated yet personalized messages to individual parents. Let’s say you’re in class, and two students are absent, three didn’t complete their homework, and Sally made an excellent point in discussion. From one screen, you can send different texts to different parents, all at the same time. Even better, you can modify the choices and personalize the texts. This is a feature no other service currently has.
In short: You could easily contact all of your students’ parents every day (meaning: it would take three minutes, tops). (Just be sure that your parents aren’t annoyed by the constant communication!)
When I text students, I still prefer SmashText. It’s a free desktop application that allows group and mass texting using your Google contacts. When students respond, their texts go directly to my phone (although I could change that setting in Google Voice). I find that I like the real-time interactive nature of SmashText. After all, students can’t wait; they need their answers now.
But with parents, I’m definitely going with Kikutext next year. The developers are working hard to make improvements, and I look forward to seeing what they do over the summer.
Important Update, August 2012: Much of this review is no longer accurate. Kikutext now offers tiered pricing, and its free option is too restrictive to be workable. Its pro service is $10 a month, too expensive for most teachers. In addition, the “status reports,” as far as I know, are no longer available. Therefore, although I understand that Kikutext needs to make money, I no longer think it’s a good solution. I’m staying with SmashText.