When class websites and email lists fail to follow through on that open communication you want between students, parents, and educators, it’s time to meet parents and students where they are: checking their phones for text (SMS) messages.
But as an educator, you need to know you’re getting the most out of your time and money. Here is a rundown of the top 10 best SMS software for the education sector.
Table of Contents
- Best SMS Marketing Software for Schools & Educators
- 1. Remind–Best Overall
- 2. TalkingPoints
- 3. ClassParrot
- 4. Livingtree
- 5. Vidyalaya
- Marketing SMS Software
- 1. SimpleTexting-Best Overall
- 2. TextMagic
- 3. Trumpia
- 4. ClickSend
- 5. EZ Texting
- What Is Text Messaging for Schools?
- What Are the Benefits of SMS for Schools?
- How Does Texting for Schools Work?
- How to Choose the Right SMS Software for Schools
- Other Uses for SMS Marketing
Best SMS Marketing Software for Schools & Educators
Education-Focused SMS Software
Education-focused SMS software companies know the unique needs of educators, schools, and districts. Here are my top 5 picks.
1. Remind–Best OverallLearn More
The folks at Remind have produced a multilayered platform that not only allows students, parents, and teachers to communicate effectively via text, but it also allows them to have the option of a mobile or desktop app with additional features like integrating with your Google Classroom or Canvas page.
One of my favorite features is the multilanguage feature which allows parents and students to choose the language they prefer. Remind will not only translate in-app, but you can send and receive SMS in your preferred language if the school utilizes Remind Hub.Learn More
Many immigrant and underrepresented parents do not speak the same language as the teachers, which can stifle their involvement in the child’s education. TalkingPoints is an educational technology nonprofit that uses AI and human translation in its SMS software to bridge that communication gap.
TalkingPoints’ mission is to help parents and teachers break down communication barriers to support their students. It’s not hard to see why some of the largest school districts in the nation, like Seattle and Boston Public School Districts, are utilizing this passionate nonprofit.
3. ClassParrotLearn More
ClassParrot is a no-frills, get-the-job-done SMS software built specifically with educators in mind.
ClassParrot focuses on making sure students’, parents’, and teachers’ phone numbers are kept private. Students and parents send a message to a sign-up number, and teachers use their ClassParrot website to send and receive SMS messages.
4. LivingtreeLearn More
Livingtree offers a free teacher account as well as school- and district-wide plans.
Even with the free plan, you have language translation capabilities, MMS messaging, and volunteer and event sign-ups. The school- and district-wide plans offer a dedicated customer service rep for the school or district as well as the ability to send urgent SMS messages and to create various reports.
5. VidyalayaLearn More
Vidyalaya is an international school management software company that integrates its SMS messaging into a host of services for schools, like ERP, website design, Moodle, biometrics, and many others.
If you’re looking for a suite of products that integrate seamlessly with SMS software, definitely look into Vidyalaya’s products.
Marketing SMS Software
While these picks might not have an education focus, they do give you the flexibility to focus solely on texting rather than bundling multiple services into one platform. Also, since they’re in the business of marketing, analysis reports for click-through rates and keywords for text messages about fundraising and volunteer sign-ups shouldn’t be underestimated.
Here are my top 5 Marketing SMS Software picks.
1. SimpleTexting-Best Overall
SimpleTexting is a leader in the SMS software industry with customers ranging from Starbucks to Legoland to Chick-fil-a.
One of the things I liked best about this company is that its pricing plan is extremely flexible with options for everyone from small businesses (or teachers) to Fortune 500 companies. They also offer you a toll-free number that can be dedicated to texting as well as the option to upgrade to an SMS short code for parents and students to easily and memorably sign up for text messages.
- Read our SimpleTexting Review
2. TextMagicLearn More
TextMagic is confident in its service. It gives a 30-day trial with free SMS credits for testing out and a money-back guarantee after the trial on any unused credits if you’re unhappy for any reason. You also don’t have to worry about contracts because it’s a pay-as-you-go type service, which is particularly helpful for individual teachers.
You also have the option of virtual mile numbers to protect not only your privacy but also your students’ and parents’ privacy.
- Read our TextMagic Review
3. TrumpiaLearn More
Trumpia’s plans start at 3,000 SMS messages per month, so they might be better suited to a school or district rather than a teacher.
One of their biggest pros is their customer service, which is top-notch. I’d expect nothing less when their customers include Goodwill and Costco. Another great feature is the integration of mass emails and even QR sign-up codes.
4. ClickSendLearn More
ClickSend’s ala carte pricing can’t be beat. In fact, they say they will beat competitors’ pricing. Because you only pay for what you send (texts you receive are free), you don’t have to worry about roll-over texts a.k.a. “paying for more than you use.”
They also have a nice library of pre-made texts for you to use for moments like parent-teacher conferences or absenteeism.
- Read our ClickSend Review
5. EZ TextingLearn More
EZ Texting boasts an impressive client list as well as the flexibility of plans like SimpleTexting, which make it affordable for a teacher’s salary but robust enough for a school’s or district’s needs.
There are some features like toll-free numbers and using landlines for texting that are additional charges rather than automatic inclusions like other companies, which can add up.
- Read our EZ Texting Review
What Is Text Messaging for Schools?
You know those handy text message reminders for an upcoming doctor’s appointment or maybe when your prescription is ready at your local pharmacy? Imagine harnessing that kind of useful communication power for your school or classroom.
SMS for schools allows educators to send bulk text messages to parents and students. This can look like messages for the entire student-parent population or even down to a classroom, team, or club.
Given the open rate for text messages, it’s easy to see that SMS is the way to go if you want to get your message out there.
What Are the Benefits of SMS for Schools?
There are numerous benefits for using SMS in schools. As a parent and an educator, here are my top 5 reasons.
Weather cancelations are not uncommon across the nation. We have to deal with everything from hurricanes to wildfires. There’s nothing worse as a parent than hunting down the school’s Twitter or Facebook account or constantly reloading email in the hopes that someone will update us on if school is still in session.
Text messages would solve this issue and keep parents informed with up-to-the-minute information on weather cancelations.
As a former middle and high school teacher, I know that keeping a planner is a low priority for most students. They’re so active and overstimulated with juggling classes, family, sports, friends, etc., that being organized tends to fall by the wayside. Not to mention, parents are just as busy and overworked.
SMS can actually help keep them on track. You can send gentle reminders to students (and parents) about upcoming quizzes, tests, or papers a day or even an hour in advance. They can also be used as reminders for parent-teacher conferences or even volunteer sign-ups.
Students using technology
I know. Cell phones in the classroom can be the bane of any teacher’s existence. But there is also a huge boon to using SMS as a type of media in the classroom.
Using SMS for things like exit tickets or polls or any number of classroom-related activities can help students learn responsible practices for technology. These skills are vital in a technology-saturated society.
Short and sweet
Unlike those newsletter-like emails from the principal or even teachers, text messages are brief by nature. With SMS, parents, in particular, don’t have to wade through a giant email to find pertinent information for their child or their child’s grade.
You, your parents, and your students can focus just on one message whether that’s for a fundraiser, an assignment, or a field trip.
Teachers are planners by necessity. Why not extend this to communication? If you’re having parent-teacher conferences, you can set up SMS reminders in advance to help busy parents remember the appointment. If you like using exit tickets in your lessons, you can schedule those messages to go out at just the right time for your students.
Taking advantage of your SMS software’s scheduling feature helps keep you and your crew focused on the tasks at hand.
How Does Texting for Schools Work?
SMS software for schools and educators, at its simplest, reminds me of using many other messaging apps on your computer or phone. You open the software on either your desktop or mobile device, choose your recipients, write your brief message, schedule the delivery time, and hit send. It’s fairly simple.
- Sign up. You can ask parents and students if they want to sign up for texting on a school-entrance form, or you can have parents or students sign up via a QR code or short code.
- Mass texting. If you need to send a message to the entire class or school about a cancelation or an upcoming event, you can send out a mass text to a large group of people.
- Two-way texting with students and parents. In addition to mass texts, you are still able to communicate individually with students or parents just like you would via email or regular text messages, but with the added benefit that all parties’ private phone numbers are protected.
How to Choose the Right SMS Software for Schools
Overall, most platforms offer similar features and free trial periods to test their products. Many are even free for individual teachers. But here are a few areas of consideration when narrowing your choices.
How many users can use the SMS software at once?
Usually, you’re granted a specific number of users as a baseline.
Make sure to find out how many teachers and staff in your school need access to the platform, and factor in any additional costs for adding those users. This is especially important for marketing-focused SMS companies.
Will you be able to send both SMS and MMS?
Short Message Service (SMS) is a simple text-based message of only 160 or so characters. Multimedia Message Service (MMS) is a step up from SMS where you can send pictures or even videos.
So, if you want to up your messaging game by sending out a video from the principal or a teacher, make sure that your platform can support MMS as well as SMS.
What are credits?
As you delve into pricing, particularly with marketing-focused SMS software companies, you’ll notice that they talk a lot about credits.
Credits usually correspond to the cost of the type of message you send. Depending on the plan you choose, you would purchase an allotted number of credits to send either SMS or MMS messages.
For example, in most cases, 1 credit equals 1 SMS message, which costs $0.04 on average. But if you want to send 1 MMS, that would cost about 3 credits, which is about $0.12.
What about integrations?
As you can imagine, many SMS companies don’t focus solely on education. Their services are applicable across multiple sectors. But some platforms are built for educators. They know your unique needs as a school administrator or educator and even for parents and students.
Typically, these SMS services will integrate with Google Classroom, Canvas, and other platforms. They give parents and students the option of utilizing text or an app.
If integration is high on your priority list, definitely dive into the Education-Focused SMS Software section on my top 10 list.
What about privacy and safety?
Exchanging personal phone numbers between teachers, parents, and students can put all involved in compromising situations. Thankfully, all the SMS software companies on this list give options to protect everyone’s safety.
Check out options for landline texting, which allows schools and teachers to send and receive texts from their existing school phone numbers. There are also options to purchase a new number dedicated to texting or even a smart code that allows parents and students to sign up by texting a phrase to a 5- or 6-digit number. Some options, particularly the education-focused SMS software, keep all phone numbers private from the moment of sign-up and beyond.
There are many ways to maintain the privacy and safety of all involved.
Other Uses for SMS Marketing
What is SMS technology in education?
SMS technology is the ability for districts, schools, or teachers to communicate via text messaging through an SMS software company.
How do teachers communicate with parents?
Teachers can send either mass text messages or have 2-way chats via text with parents.
Can I send an SMS from my computer?
Yes, you can send an SMS (text message) from your computer or even an app on your mobile device.
Is it OK if teachers text students?
Yes, teachers, students, and parents may text one another if privacy is maintained. Many SMS software plans include the ability to text via landlines (like school phone numbers) or through safe sign-ups where no private phone numbers are exchanged.