Sunday, April 1, 2012

Celly for Administrators, Teachers, and Students

Cross posted at the Teaching Generation Text. The blog dedicated to using mobile devices for learning.

Celly is primarily a free group texting service. Group texting saves time, improves communication, provides documentation of texts, and sets the stage for easily using many other cell phone tools. The Cells referred to in Celly are instant mobile networks. With Celly, you can have open group chat, one-way alerting, or a hybrid where curators can approve messages.

Celly also provides security and privacy as phone numbers are never exposed and there are controls. Cell curators filter messages before they are sent to the group. This keeps discussion on-topic and reduces abuse, impersonation, and cyberbullying. An @me feature lends itself to note taking. Celly even has a built-in polling feature complete with the tabulation of results.

So how might administrators, teachers, and students use Celly to increase communication and enhance learning? Here are some ideas.

Administrators
Delta Opportunity School needed an emergency notification system, but was out of money. I (Willyn Webb) suggested a free group texting service like Celly. It worked so well that we now use Celly for daily staff communication by sending inspirational quotes, staff meeting notices, or to gather input prior to meetings, and to poll for feedback after meetings. Cells also allow increased administrations involvement with Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). Because it’s not possible for the administrators to attend each PLC in person, they could still stay connected. Each PLC is set up as a Cell and the administrators are members of each.

Teachers
Mrs. Sparks, an English teacher at an alternative high school in Colorado, uses group texting with her classes to gather feedback after class discussions. As homework, she sends a thought-provoking question from the discussion and has students respond. Mrs. Sparks reports that the students’ responses are often of a much higher quality than the ones shared during class. She’s not sure if it is because they’ve had time to think and process or because they are getting to text it in, but she knows it works. Every student gets a chance to answer. A definite improvement over in class discussions. She has also uses open chats and kept the conversation going outside of class. All of the texts sent and received can be viewed from her computer by logging in on the Celly site.

Students
Willyn Webb used a Cell for her teen parent group to send daily writing prompts for journal entries. When set to open chat, the girls started using it to support each other as students and parents. Other examples are, the student council president has a Cell of members to send out reminders about activities, deadlines, and event announcements. A middle school student who has a Cell group to drill and review with classmates before tests.
   
For more information about and ideas on how to use each of these tools, check out Teaching Generation Text.
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