Texting for Education: Why Schools are Turning to SMS

Text messaging and school might not immediately make sense together (isn’t texting taboo in the classroom?). But texting friends during class time isn’t what we’re getting at. Instead, there’s an increasing number of learning institutions that are adopting SMS software for schools and higher education as part of their greater communication outreach.

The why is clear: It’s getting harder for institutions to maintain communication with parents, students, faculty and staff when only email and phone calls are used. Emails have low open rates and often get lost in our inboxes, and phone calls are often ignored thanks to an influx of robocalls and our general dislike for talking on the phone.

From sending campus-wide alerts to connecting one-on-one with students in the classroom, texting is the missing piece for effective communication that is both convenient and highly accessible – everyone has a default texting app, and 77% of consumers use it more than any other messaging app on their phone.

Why use SMS software for schools and not a personal phone?

There are several reasons why a learning institution or a teacher would turn to using a text messaging solution instead of their own texting app.

  • Access to texting features. Texting software lets schools do more than what native texting apps can offer: Text from your computer, send group messages, set up auto-replies, use keywords to automate information, create reusable templates and schedule messages ahead of time. Learn more about texting software features here.
  • Liability. With centralized software, all messages are kept on file and can be accessed by an administrator when needed.
  • Keeping personal contacts separate. Just like learning institutions would have email and phone numbers designated for the workplace, texting should be no different. Texting software can text-enable an existing landline, VoIP or toll-free phone number, so there’s no need to hand out a personal phone number anymore. Software users can manage work texts separately from personal texts on their mobile phone and desktop.

Now that we’ve covered why SMS software for schools is ideal, let’s look at how the education industry can leverage texting for their communication needs.

SMS software for schools: Use cases for K-12

Most classrooms have their own landline phone, and with texting software, the phone number can be enabled to text as well. Texting in the classroom can vary from kindergarten to high school. Some teachers may choose not to text students directly, but texting can help them stay connected to parents, keeping them abreast of upcoming assignment due dates and parent/teacher meetings.

And now as COVID-19 has shifted in-class learning to the home, teachers can use texting to be more accessible to students and parents so they can stay in the loop with daily classwork. Texting can be used as an alert to check email inboxes or online learning platforms for important updates. Or students can reach out directly to teachers to set up on-one-one assistance.

Below are a few general examples how texting can be used with students and parents. You can copy and paste the plain text below all the images for your own use with texting software.

SMS templates for schools: K-12

Meeting reminders for parents

SMS template for school example using Zipwhip texting software

A text message example showing how group texting can be used in the classroom with Zipwhip software.

Hi Parents! Don’t forget parent/teacher conference is this (INSERT DAY). Please check your emails for your scheduled time and details about what to expect. See you soon!

Project due date reminders for remote learning

SMS template for schools to use when texting in the classroom

An example of using Zipwip’s BCC Group Messaging feature. Send a text to groups up to 100 and replies will open in separate conversation windows.

Using Auto-Reply for messages after hours

SMS software for schools using auto-reply feature

An example of how Zipwhip’s Auto-reply feature can be used by teachers for text messages sent after hours.

Hi there, thanks for your message. I’ve stepped away from the classroom for the day, but I’ll be back online tomorrow morning at 8. I’ll reply to your message then! Talk soon.

 

SMS software for schools: Use cases with colleges and universities

Texting is a smart way to get in touch with higher education students because they’re juggling a million things: work, class, social lives, campus clubs, etc. Getting an email response or getting calls returned are difficult when there are plenty of other things vying for their attention. A text is quick and their preferred way to communicate.

SMS software can be used throughout higher education departments, including admissions, student success, in the classroom, athletics departments and the library.

The following are only a few examples of how texting can be leveraged in a college or university setting.

SMS templates for schools: colleges and universities

Class cancellation

SMS template for schools in a university setting

An example of how to Zipwhip’s group messaging feature can be used in the college and university classroom.

Library

SMS template for school example in a university setting

An example of how texting software can be used by university libraries.

Sports for sales using keywords and auto-reply

University athletics department SMS example sales

How texting software features Keywords and Auto-reply can be used to increase sales in university and college sports.

You’ve just redeemed (DISCOUNT) off next (DAY)’s game in our battle against (TEAM NAME)! Please follow this link to access your tickets: (INSERT LINK).

Student outreach

SMS template for schools in a university and college setting

How texting can be used with prospective university students with a group messaging feature.

Hi [First Name]! Looking forward to meeting you on the campus tour next week. Check your email when you have time for all the information you need about the big day. If you have any questions, please reply to this text. 😊

Related content: Read how Multnomah University uses Zipwhip

Texting can be especially helpful to reduce the summer melt — a phenomenon where prospective students lose motivation to attend school in the fall due to extensive enrollment preparation throughout the summer. Students find themselves overwhelmed and lost with next steps, including finding housing and securing financial aid.

Maintaining contact with students during this time is key to increase matriculation rates. Texting features such as scheduled messages, dynamic fields and templates, can help colleges and universities automate timely, personal reminders to students and parents that guide them through these important processes.

Mass texting for schools: Sending alerts and updates with an SMS API on toll-free

There will also be instances where an alert or update must be sent campus-wide or to all parents (such as weather alerts, school closure and re-opening).

With texting’s high open rate, texting is the best medium to use when important messages need to be seen right away. Sending texts on a mass scale will require an SMS API (Application Programming Interface) solution that can be used in conjunction with SMS software or on its own. One of the most common trends in SMS API is using it with a toll-free number because of the added two-way conversational capability and array of additional benefits.

An API solution allows learning institutions to not only add text messaging capabilities to existing phone numbers, but when used with software, an API enables texting across all school workflows, from high-volume, automated text messaging to customized, one-on-one conversations.

While high-volume texts could be sent using a short code phone number, short codes tend to offer a confusing experience for the recipient: they can’t immediately identify who the number belongs to and they may ignore your message if they dismiss it as spam. Using your existing phone number offers consistency and immediate recognition.

Related content: 8 Common Ways to Use a Texting API

Here are a few examples for campus-wide or large-scale text messages 

SMS templates for schools: Mass texts

School closure due to inclement weather

SMS templates for schools

An example showing how a texting API can be used to send mass texts across campus.

Parents, faculty and staff: Campus will be closed [DAY] due to heavy snowfall. Please check your email for more information about possible closure plans for the rest of the week.

Reminders for faculty and staff

SMS templates for schools

Good morning faculty and staff members. (DAY) will be the last day to complete the annual Employee Engagement Survey. It should take only 10 minutes. You can access the survey via the following link or through the intranet platform. Thank you! (INSERT LINK)

 

Using Zipwhip as an SMS software for schools

Interested in using texting at your learning institution? Start a free trial of Zipwhip today.

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