Stay aware in the changing landscape of school mobile platforms
There are many technology-based options for teachers and parents to communicate with one another, but those options may soon be changing with a recent shake-up between Verizon Wireless and the Remind app. When Verizon decided to treat Remind’s teacher-to-home messages as spam, the company found itself unable to distribute text messages to Verizon customers without incurring a charge.
This turn of events solidifies the fact that “freemium” models are, in fact, too good to be true and are likely to be greatly impacted by Verizon’s decision. Educational technology is relatively new, and there are many parties who need to and want to make money off of options that are pitched as free to users, particularly those that support texting as a primary mode of communication. Many “software as a service” (SaaS) education technology companies offer a free version of their platform to quickly attract teachers to use their product. The free version is meant as an entry or gateway product to something more robust or expensive. However, many SaaS platforms still don't reveal their pricing up front and schools can be on the losing end of this lacking transparency. Companies who offer a product still need to generate revenue - they are, after all, businesses, and potential customers should be sure to research options carefully.
Mobile platforms for school communication are undoubtedly a game-changer in recent years, as they give schools a way to effectively communicate with parents and students through the smartphones that are used by most people, regardless of socioeconomic status or native language. Teachers who have jumped on this opportunity to communicate are smart and savvy in doing so, but schools are increasingly realizing the need to streamline their communication plans. The advantages of streamlining are plentiful, and establishing a plan will ensure that leaders are aware of all outgoing communication, that the messaging is correct and clear, and that the information sent out is digestible and organized for parents and families.
School leaders may not be fully aware of exactly which communication methods teachers are using in their building, and it may seem as though allowing teachers to do what works for them is just fine. However, if more mobile carriers decide to charge for text services by school communication platforms, leaders may start suddenly hearing from frustrated parents, even when the school is not at fault.