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Taking the Leap: Why I Text My Students and Why You Should Too

Karen Costa (Southern New Hampshire University & The Zebra Coach, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 1:45pm
Student Services and Learner Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Discovery Session
Atlantic Hall
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Discovery Session 1

After avoiding it for years, I finally decided to text my students. This session will discuss current research and the practicalities of texting.

Extended Abstract

Rationale in Support of Texting & Summary of Key Presentation Points

Today's college students are often working adults with family responsibilities. A large percentage of college students are also active military. Many students are first-generation college students who may be unfamiliar with the unique expectations of the higher education. Finally, the nature of the fully online classroom can be confusing and isolating for certain students.

Research and Theory in Support of Teaching with Texts
Recent research has found a correlation between a professor's use of texting in the classroom and student learning (Chipp, 2014).
The use of behavioral nudges via texts is at the forefront of higher education retention efforts (Wildavsky, 2013).
Heavy cell phone use indicates that texting is a highly effective and efficient method with which to communicate with college students (Goebel, 2013).
A recent New York Times article described the use of texting to support both recruitment and retention of low-income students. In one texting trial, "Among freshmen who received the texts, 68 percent went on to complete their sophomore year, compared with 54 percent of those who got no nudges" (Dynarski, 2015, para. 7).

How Professor Costa Teaches with Texts
Prof. Costa utilizes free Google Voice software to text students.
Google Voice provides privacy for professors. Students receive a text from a Google Voice
number instead of personal phone numbers.
The Google Voice website keeps a log of all texts between professor and student for easy
record keeping and reference.
You can send texts via the Google Voice website or a free Google Voice app on your mobile
Examples of common text discussion:
o Assignments issues
o Support and encouragement o Personal challenges

Examples of Text Exchanges
Example 1
Student: Good morning Karen! Can you provide me with the course id please? Thank you! 9:15 AM
Me: Good morning! If you go to the course forum and then MFL you will see it posted along with directions on registering for MFL 9:55 AM
Student: Thanks
Example 2
Me: Hi Student it's Prof. Karen Costa. Welcome to the course and happy to see you signed up for texting. 4:36 PM
Student: Thank you, looking forward to it. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 4:43 PM Me: Hi Student, I just want to tell you that you are doing an awesome job in class and you are destined for greatness. Keep up the good work. Karen 11:48 AM
Student: Thanks so much for the compliment! Have a great day!
Example 3
Student Hi Professor, this is Student. Thank you for welcoming me. 12:57 PM
Me: Hi Student, Make sure to complete 6.7 and 6.9 in MFL to get credit for assignment 2.1. Okay? Karen 11:48 AM
Student: I did 11:50 AM
Student: I passed test and did all modules. 11:50 AM
Me: Okay one second let me check 11:51 AM
Me: Glad I texted you! I had written good job in the comments of the grade but gave you 0. All set now. Great job! you have a 95% in class. :) 11:52 AM
Student: Ok, I am confused. 11:53 AM
Me: Sorry. It was my mistake. You did 2.1 correctly and I entered the wrong grade. All fixed now. Your overall grade for class is 95%. 11:54 AM
Student:: Ok and thank you. Have a great day, I work nights on weekends and I am going back to sleep, now that I can relax. Lol
Example 4
Me: Hi Student, Glad you signed up for texting and welcome to the course. Karen Costa 8:04 PM
Student: Good evening Instructor Costa. Thank you for the welcome and I am looking forward to this next 8 weeks and what it will help me with obtaining my degree. Thank you 8:39 PM
Me: Hi Student, Do you need help with 2.3? It was due yesterday. :) Karen 11:46 AM Student: Sorry. I will submit it in in just a few. I had some family matters I have to attend to. 12:42 PM
Me: Sounds good! 12:42 PM
Example 5
Me: Hi Student it's Prof. Costa. Glad you signed up for texting. Welcome to ENG 101 at
JIU. 7:15 PM
Student Thank you very much. Itll be much easier to communicate especially due to my crazy schedule because i am in the Navy :) 7:17 PM
Me: I'm so glad to hear that. Thank you for your service. If you need anything, let me know. 7:18 PM
Student: I will. Thank you.

Discussion Points
1. Does/should texting replace a phone call for a personal check-in with students?
2. Is Google Voice the best option for texting?
3. What are the pros and cons for each communication modality?

Teaching with Texts Digital Badge
All faculty who attend the session will receive a "Teaching With Texts" Digital Badge via Credly. This badge can be stored on the Credly website, shared on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Faculty can also include the badge on their LinkedIn profile and include it on their resume.

Lead Presenter

After graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelor's in Sociology, I went earned my M.Ed. in Higher Education from UMass Amherst and my C.A.G.S. in Educational Leadership from Northeastern University. I have nearly fifteen years of experience working with students from diverse backgrounds and a decade of experience in faculty development, academic advising, college success strategies, and online learning.

I am a Certified Academic Coach through the National Tutoring Association and a Certified Career Intuitive Coach. I offer coaching and speaking services through www.thezebracoach.com. I also teach college success strategies online as an adjunct professor.