Teaching with Technology

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    Send email messages to a student's cell phone
    blog entry posted December 4, 2010 by Richard E Lillie, last edited April 2, 2012, tagged teaching, technology, technology tools 
    2009 Views, 4 Comments
    Send email messages to a student's cell phone

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    In Gmail, this is pretty easy to do.  Start by logging into your Gmail account.

    1. In the upper right hand corder of the screen, click SETTINGS.
    2. On the SETTINGS page, click the FILTERS tab.
    3. You will see a set of text boxes to be filled in.
    4. Put the email address addresses of people who you wish to have forwarded to your cell phone in the FROM box.
    5. Click NEXT.
    6. On the next screen, put a CHECK next to the box that says FORWARD IT TO.
      • This is where you type the EMAIL ADDRESS of your CELL PHONE.
      • Use instructions below to find your cell phone's email address.
    7. Click CREATE FILTER.
    8. You're done.


    1. Pickup your cell phone.
    2. Openyour cell phone.
    3. Navigate to your Contacts list.
    4. Create an entry for your personal/business/university email address (e.g., Gmail email address).
    5. Navigate to your cell phone's text message app.
    6. Create a text message.
    7. Address it to your home/business/university email address.
    8. Press SEND.
    9. Log in to your personal/business/university email account (i.e., Gmail account), find the email sent to you from your cell phone.
    10. The FROM address should be your cell phone number followed by @your
      • For example, text messages from Verizon Wireless, come from (where 3211234567 is your area code & phone number).
    11. Take note of the address which starts with your cell phone number.  That's your cell phone's email address.




    • Julie Smith David

      Rick - this sounds really easy to do, and would make you very connected with your students!  I'm sure some of them love it... (and some of mine would prefer not to do this, I'm sure!!)  Thanks for sharing - J

      • Richard E Lillie

        Hi Julie,

        Evidence suggests that for Millennial students (especially the younger ones) the cell phone is the preferred mode of communication.  Students say they do not like having to log into an email account to retrieve messages.  This is too inconvenient.  They prefer for messages to display on a cell phone screen.  This way, messages come to them wherever they are.

        Many universities, like my own, have adopted email communication as a cost savings measure and as a way of going paperless.  This presents a delimma.

        Official communication is largely done via email.  If students do not keep current with their email accounts they risk not knowing important things they need to know (i.e., communication from the university, courses, faculty, etc.).  Not knowing what they need to know can quickly put them "behind the 8 ball."

        During a committee meeting this past Friday morning, we discussed this issue at some length.  The consensus was that we need a compromise of sort between university-faculty-students.  One suggestion was to forward email messages to a student's cell phone or at least send a "tickler" message that alerts a student to check his(her) email account.

        To make this happen, an email account needs to be forwarded to a cell phone.  As best I have been able to determine, this is done by forwarding from the email account to the email address of the cell phone.  This is what "texting" does.

        A student needs to set up the forwarding option in his(her) email account.  The information in this posting explains how to do this.

        If a student does not have an email account that has a forwarding option or a cell phone that will receive/display a forwarded email message, then the student needs to do things the "old-fashioned way" (i.e., log into the email account and check for messages).  If the forwarding option works, it should make life easier for everyone.

        I like an integrated systems approach to things where one piece of technology talks to another.  That's what "forwarding" is all about.  One part of the communication system talks to another.  Once the connection occurs, it is up to the user to decide how/when/whether to respond.

        At least the student knows there is information waiting for the student's consideration.

        Rick Lillie


    • Robert E Jensen

      "Students Endlessly E-Mail Professors for Help. A New Service Hopes to Organize the Answers," by Jeffrey R. Young, Chronicle of Higher Education, April 1, 2012 ---

      Meet the Ed-Tech Start-Ups

      It's a golden age for educational-technology start-ups. The past three years have seen a spike in venture-capital investment in upstart companies, many founded by entrepreneurs just out of college. Last month The Chronicle outlined the trend ("A Boom Time for Education Start-Ups"), but we wanted to dig deeper.

      Below are short features on three such companies, focusing on the problems they hope to solve and the challenges they face in selling their unusual ideas. To get a sense of the emerging field, we've included a list of a dozen other start-ups competing for a piece of the action.

      Pooja Sankar may eliminate the need for professors to hold office hours, or to endlessly respond to student questions by e-mail.

      Ms. Sankar, a recent graduate of Stanford University's M.B.A. program, leads a start-up focused on finding a better way for college students to ask questions about course materials and assignments online. Her company, Piazza, has built an online study hall where professors and teaching assistants can easily monitor questions and encourage students who understand the material to help their peers.

      At first blush, the service seems unnecessary. Students can already e-mail questions to professors or fellow students, and most colleges already own course-management systems like Blackboard that include discussion features. But Ms. Sankar feels that such options are clunky. She says professors are finding that Piazza can save them hours each week by allowing them to post answers to a single online forum rather than handle a scattershot of student e-mails.

      Piazza is a Web site that refreshes with updates as new questions or answers come in. Professors simply set up a free discussion area for their course on the service at the beginning of the term and invite their students to set up free accounts to participate. Ms. Sankar says that students typically keep Piazza open on their screens as they work on homework, often staying on the site for hours at a time.

      Ms. Sankar, who is 31, was inspired to create the service based on her own experience as an undergraduate in India, where she studied at the highly selective Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur. She says she was a shy student, and one of only three women majoring in computer science, so she often found herself watching from the wings as more social students collaborated on homework assignments. She felt there had to be a way to recreate a study hall online, in a way that made it easy for shy students to ask questions anonymously.

      After graduating, she got a master's degree in computer science at the University of Maryland at College Park, and then worked as an engineer for Facebook and other companies for a few years. When she decided to head to Stanford to study business, she was sure she would not try to start a company of her own, since she found the prospect "too scary." But a course on entrepreneurship made her realize that the path to a company was simply a series of "baby steps," and that she wanted to bring her vision of a better "question-and-answer platform" to life.

      She wrote the original version of Piazza herself, after teaching herself the programming language Ruby on Rails from a book. By the time she first sought investors, she already had hundreds of students using the service. She raised an initial round of $1.5-million last year from the venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital, and raised an additional $6-million from investors in November.

      As of yet, the site has no plans to generate revenue—the service is free and does not carry advertisements. Ms. Sankar said that she didn't write a business plan for the site, because she doesn't believe in them, and that she believes that once a critical mass of students and professors are signed up, revenue models can emerge. When pressed, she says that in the future the company may charge for advanced analytics for professors or other extra features.

      She spends much of her time seeking feedback from users and obsessively tinkering with the service in hopes of improving it. "I am an engineer at heart," she explains.

      To spread the word about the site, she has taken an unusually personal approach. She sends e-mail messages to professors telling her story and the goal of the site, and asking them to try it.

      Greg Morrisett, a computer-science professor at Harvard University, got one of those e-mails. He said he was curious, but he was concerned that the site's policy noted that it claimed ownership over comments posted on the site, which Mr. Morrisett felt violated Harvard's policies. So he wrote back to Ms. Sankar and said he wasn't able to use it. "Ten minutes later she wrote back and said, 'We fixed the policy,'" the professor recalls. (Users now own their own posts.) So he gave it a shot.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on Tools and Tricks of the Trade ---