As we noted earlier this week, cell phones are in the hands of the vast majority of adults and whether schools like it or not, they're in the hands of most students. While many schools still see cellphones as a distraction rather than as an educational tool, it's hard to deny that these devices are quickly becoming the primary means by which we communicate, in or out of schools.
For most teens, it's not the "phone" part of a cellphone that they use most. Rather it's text-messaging. A Pew survey from last summer found that one in three teens sends more than 100 text messages a day -- more than 3,000 messages per month. Statistics like this point to all sorts of possibilities for educational opportunities around texting, particularly if you want to tap into the tools that they're already using.
But text-messaging has other benefits as well. Unlike apps that are only available on certain smartphones or mobile websites that are only accessible on Internet-enabled devices, text-messaging is widely available. This makes it an important and accessible communication tool, one that can meet the needs of schools and communities.
Meeting that need is the goal of Celly, a startup out of Portland, Oregon. A simple description of the new company: Celly offers SMS-based group messaging. Anyone can create or join a group by visiting the website or by sending a text to C-E-L-L-Y (2-3-5-5-9). And it's free to use (not counting what phone companies charge for messaging).
Classrooms can use the service to take quick polls and quizzes, filter messages, get news updates, take notes, and organize group study -- all in real time.