This week at The University of Edinburgh, educators and community leaders from all over Britain converged on the Teviot Debating Hall for the ninth instalment of Let’s talk about txt. The twice-annual event is a forum for representatives of universities, local councils and other institutions to highlight and share the latest knowledge and best practices for utilising SMS in community engagement, teaching and learning.

Keynoter Brian Hipkin, Dean of Students at Regents College, gave an eye-opening talk that emphasized how texting has come to serve as the underlying fabric of social connection. With txttools, a service of Blackboard Connect, Hipkin has put together impressive programmes that attract, engage and retain students at several higher education institutions. Perhaps most impressively, in his entire 45 minute presentation, Hipkin used only 176 characters – demonstrating how much one can accomplish, even under the severe constraints that SMS imposes.

Other presenters included:

  • Dr. Stephen McClean at the University of Ulster explained how he uses SMS to enhance teaching and learning. With txttools, he can conduct in-class surveys, thus eliminating the need for hardware-based clickers.  He even uses txt to perform peer-based grading of multiple-choice exams, saving himself time and effort, while ensuring that students get marks instantly, rather than days later.
  • Rosie Douglas at MidKent College shared how students engaged in a service programme in Kenya used txttools to create a microblog of their experiences.  As internet access is sparse in the communities they were working, txttools provided a direct line of communication – and powerful moral support – linking the students to their families, school leadership and classmates.

Interested in how SMS is changing the way communities and schools interact with their stakeholders? Visit and find out more.

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