Students compete for meme rights to a Remind text alert

They'll ignore it (sometimes) if a teacher made it

Believe it or not, I think I found a way to make students ignore yet another stream of communication coming from adults and teachers.  We thought they read our emails. They don't. (Or at least not thoroughly.) We thought they read the e-newsletter. Nope.  We thought they read the announcements or the daily bulletin. They power-browse those. Maybe.

We thought that sending texts to their smartphones, even in a safe, easy way like Remind, would keep them informed of upcoming events, club meetings, assignments, and schedule changes.  Turns out students (after my 1,000th message over three years) may be swiping those away, too.  Remind alerts so conveniently pop up on their phones as SMS messages or notifications, but I'm still competing to get students' attention.  I know this because Remind lets you see which subscribers actually open an attachment (document, image) you send along with the text.  And they are not large numbers.  I thought I knew what students valued in a Remind alert, but I'm still learning. 


Sometimes I send messages to 130+ subscribers and only see (next to the little eyeball icon) 10-20 viewers.

They'll open it if they (or their classmate) made it 

So there's hope.  Lately, I've been encouraging students to send me animated gifs, memes, and other-student generated content that I can attach to Remind messages.  As cute narcissists, students will create when they know they'll have a peer audience.  As a result, the touch-through rates are on the rise. In other words, the number next to the eyeball icon is increasing.  Here's a meme I sent that serves as a NoRedInk homework reminder. It leverages a classroom inside joke related to the infamous video of Allen Iverson discussing "practice."  (46 of 92 recipients viewed the image.)

This homework reminder went to 77 students and 15 parents. 46 clicked through to the image.  Messages sent with student-created attachments tend to get more views than those with teacher-originated attachments.

Some Internet memes have staying power. The "honey badger" trope helped the Remind alert below garner 57 views.  The double sideways carrot ( >> ) helps, too.  Giving credit to the meme-maker within the message itself also seems to create mini-celebrities in class and competition for future Remind real estate.


Sometimes still images aren't enough. After I posted a few student-created memes, the gifs started rolling in.  This feverish typer related to many a late-night Membean forgetters in class.

They'll open it if it mentions "extra credit" or contains cats.

LOLCats for the win!  Sometimes students are unpredictable. Who knew that a picture of cats from the iPad game Type:Rider would yield a 55% click-through rate?

They'll open it if their work is being publicly praised

This Remind alert went to 52 recipients. 16 clicked through to view the attached image, an AP-style essay written by a student that earned a 9 on the College Board scale. 

They'll open it if it (ambiguously) promises a worthy punchline...

This still from an animated gif portrays an awkwardly ecstatic Brad Pitt. Students appreciate awkward ecstasy. 

They'll open it if money is involved

This poster announced an accessible writing contest with prize money.

They'll open it if they are instructed to use a "stamp" to answer a question

I usually reserve all caps to command students to STAMP a Remind alert to show they've interacted with an attached image. Here the pretty colors mesmerize them into believing they are learning there grammar.'s metrics disagrees.

Have you used student-generated content to engage other students through Remind or other communication tools?

Remind me when the mail’s delivered

One of my favorite pastimes as an edtech enthusiast is to take commercial technologies that were not designed for school and adapt them for educational purposes. We’ve all done it: Tweeted out an assignment update; organized a school club via a Facebook page; asked a warmup question through PollEverywhere; recorded a student-written, spoken-poem through GarageBand.  There’s a little rush I get from pushing a technology in a direction other than that for which it was intended, marketed, deployed.

Recently, I’ve found myself going the other way: thinking about how certain edtech apps could be used outside of education.  Are there commercial or civic applications for technologies we use to inspire creative learning?

Given my satisfaction with Remind the last couple years (see my 500 Texts Later blog post), I was struck recently when my father mentioned the frustration he has related to the US Postal Service.  He lives in a closed community of one hundred homes whose mailboxes are clustered in a central area. Once a day, the mail carrier visits the complex and delivers the mail. During hot summer Phoenix days, my dad lamented, you never know when the mail’s been delivered until you park near the mailboxes, leave your car (and A/C) running, walk to your particular box, and open it with a sizzling key.  Is there a way to know if the mail's been delivered without getting out of the car, he wondered.  The traditional flag-up/flag-down mechanism doesn’t work with 100 boxes, so what to do...?

Have the mail carrier Remind you, I said.  The next day, we had the mail carrier download Remind, create a “class” for that community, and begin sending text alerts to neighbors who wanted a notification when the mail was delivered each day.  As in the classroom, this is an opt-in service for community members, and certainly a value-ad for the USPS, which you may agree is looking for ways to stay relevant.

With the potential of 100 text alerts simultaneously directing neighbors to their mailboxes, we now only need an app that can manage the pedestrian traffic.