During a recent flood in Cerritos, California, a principal at a pilot school used Remind for Schools to send a message to 700 families simultaneously. During the recent blizzard that blanketed the East Coast, the product saw activity soar amongst pilot users.
On February 17, Remind announced Remind for Schools, a free tool will integrate a capability allowing principals to collectively message their staff. While the current iteration of Remind allows teachers to converse via text messages with parents, teachers and students, this update will open up channels for principals to communicate with their staff and, later on, families (Piloting schools are testing several ).
Amy Wright, principal at Gum Springs Elementary in Jefferson, GA pilot-tested Remind for Schools, finding that the new feature replaces a phone tree and is more immediate than email. Wright explained that she uses the feature to alert staff of warnings and closures due to inclement weather—but not all of messages are doom and gloom.
“I also use it to surprise teachers with Jeans days, or goodie days,” she told Remind.
Remind’s traffic now totals 250 million messages a month, according to Remind CEO Brett Kopf, and he expects that to balloon in the wake of Remind for Schools. Usage of the current version of Remind skyrocketed by 700 percent during the recent bomb threat against LAUSD and the subsequent shutdown.
Kopf hopes that Remind for Schools will organize the disorder LAUSD experience. He expects principals and educators to cut out phone trees and use Remind for Schools during emergencies. He didn’t anticipate that some pilot schools would take Remind for Schools entirely off school grounds, such as when some principals used the tool to coordinate their morning crossing guards.
Where does Remind for Schools fall in the landscape of school messaging apps?
According to industry experts, there is a spectrum of school messaging apps on the market. On one end, there are district-level applications that are built into the infrastructure of the district’s communication. These tools, like SchoolMessenger Communicate or Blackboard Parentlink, tend to be multi-channel: automated voice call, email, text message, push notifications, web posting, etc.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are tools that more closely mimic text messaging to enable communication between educators, parents and students. These tend to facilitate more day-to-day correspondence and less emergency-level communication.
Remind has been on the latter end of things for most of its lifespan, offering mainly text messaging. Remind for Schools, however, represents a move to be like the more comprehensive tools, and the company has plans for further upward mobility. While the first version of the new tool allows principals to communicate with their staff, the second version will connect them to the entire student body and their parents, and the third will enable district officials to communicate with all their constituents, Kopf said. The planned scaling will bring Remind into to competition with tools that offer a suite of communications channels. That may require direct ties to existing telecommunications infrastructure like phone lines, which can increase overhead costs.
Remind has received a large amount of funding—$59 million in total—since its founding in 2011. In terms of growth, the company claims that 50 percent of American K-12 schools use the service, which amounts to 35 million individual parents, students and teachers. Kopf hopes Remind’s current growth pace—66 percent year-over-year growth—will remain steady as principals start using Remind for Schools.