Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Google SMS discontinued. Try these great alternatives.

Google SMS provided a great way for students to learn right from their phones. Sadly, now they are gone. Google's decision to streamline their services, unfortunately leaves behind so many of our students who don't have access to the internet. Fortunately, in the world of Web 2.0 once one service is out, another one or two gems are usually standing by in the wings to replace it.  In this case, there are a couple services that may provide even more value to learners and like Google SMS they are free and easy to use.  

Here they are:

4Info (http://alerts.4info.com)
Add 4Info to your phone with the contact (44636). Once you have that in your phone you can text for information using most of the same codes you did with Google SMS (i.e. define, weather) as you can see from the below screenshot.
Another nice feature is that you can subscribe to alerts like "Today in History," "Quotes," "Word of the Day," "Stock Quotes." It's like an instant "do now," prompt that's created each day for your students.  

TXT Web (http://www.txtweb.com)
Add TXT Web to your phone with the contact (898932).  Once you do that, you can text not only for the type of information Google offered (i.e. Search, Stock, Directions), but this  service actually offers thousands of services ranging from those commonly accessed on Google to things like accessing Facebook, Twitter, Gmail and more.

Text web has it's own nomenclature which you will need to be aware of.  I recommend that if possible, you place these in the notes section of your contact.  Here are some that might be useful for education.
@languageconv - Universal translator to convert any language to any other language
@Goog - Google search
@wiki - Wikipedia search
@mean - definitions
@News - Get the latest news on current events
@Weather - discover the weather anywhere in the world
@Daak - Access Gmail
@FB - Access Facebook

There are free online tutors!
@2tion - Helps students connect with thousands of tutors for almost all subjects.


There is also a great quiz feature that might be fun to keep students sharp.

This  app sends quiz questions to your phones for free. Users submit the answer. You will find out if you are correct or incorrect and you will then get the correct answer to your phone. Scores are tracked and there are prizes for those who answer 500 correct questions.  
Sample quizzes.  Just text 898932 with any of the following messages: 
@quizu.history for History
@quizu.geo for Geography
@quizu.gs for GeneralScience

@quizu.current for current affairs quiz

While it's sad to see we no longer have the ability to use a great product like Google SMS, sometimes the big players need to step aside so that we discover newcomers that have innovative options like these two resources have.  
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