I heard about Kikutext I think via Twitter (ironic): it is a Twitter-like tool for communicating with parents. Given Twitter’s failings for my purposes, I find Kikutext an intriguing possibility. So tonight I set up a test class and use my two GoogleVoice numbers as test ‘parents’.
When you sign up with Kikutext, you are given a phone number. The number is ultimately a marker for sending and receiving text messages. You have no choice of the number (unlike GoogleVoice), which might be a nice feature, but ultimately is a minor detail. You then add classes. With each class, you include a Twitter-like code (prefaced by an @ sign). Parents text this code to your Kikutext number and that registers them. You can either invite parents with an introductory text message or give them the number and code directly and they sign on themselves.
Once parents are enrolled in a class, your home page looks like a modified Twitter feed. You have conversations listed to which you can reply, and of course you can compose messages. What’s nice is that you can message individual students (or a list of students) or entire classes easily (based on the names of your students as texted in by parents). I’ve included a screen shot below:
What makes Kikutext more intriguing than Twitter is the lack of a feed / account. Because everything is done by text message, students or parents will have information go directly to them via their phone. (And I should add that Kikutext bills itself as parent communication, but I will use it for both student and parent communication; I don’t see why I wouldn’t have students sign on as well.) I’m a bit concerned about logistics, especially getting the number to parents, since the only parents I have direct contact with are those that come to parents’ night. I suppose I could email them directly at the beginning of the year, but I’d probably rather avoid that if I can. Also, I hate to assume that parents don’t pay for their texts / have an unlimited messaging plan (we don’t; that’s why I was using my GoogleVoice numbers for my experiment; I will suggest getting a GoogleVoice number to parents as an alternative, but I can understand not wanting to go through that trouble). And I’ll be interested to see how Kikutext handles that initial crush of subscriptions, i.e. how much it does and how much I’ll have to do.
But my reservations are relatively minor. This is definitely an experiment I’ll run this year and keep you updated as it proceeds.