“So, I want a way to send group text messages to my students and their parents from my iPad. I also don’t want to have to enter all their phone numbers to make this happen. Is there an app for that? Oh, and it needs to be free, of course.”
Yes, there’s a service that will do this, Pulse.to. While there’s not an app, you can access the service through a browser on your iPad. Making a shortcut on one of your iPad’s screens to the webpage is nearly the same as having an app. It does require an Internet connection to send a message. You can also use this on a phone (doesn’t have to be a smart phone), computer, or any devices with Internet access and a browser.
It’s a great way to:
- let parents know when your almost home from that band trip.
- tell speech students to all meet in the front of the building to go to lunch while at a tournament.
- notify students what time the bus is leaving for the field trip on Saturday.
- remind parents of the meeting that evening.
- remind club members that their permissions forms are due tomorrow.
- send out a question to students challenging them to be the first to respond with the right answer.
How does it work?
- Pulsing is a free, easy way to text with a group of people. There is no limit to the number of people in a group.
- You can create as many Pulses as you want for free. So if you just need one temporarily for an event next week, you can do it. If you want to have a pulse for each course you teach or each team you coach, that is possible.
- Text messages will arrive from 704.323.7775 (US and Canada), or +44 7781481721 (outside US and Canada).
- It’s been my experience that the messages take about 2 minutes to be delivered.
- Pulses can be public or private. A public pulse allows people to subscribe, meaning you don’t have to enter their phone numbers.
- You can set up your pulse to allow or not allow subscribers to send messages via your pulse. Be aware that their messages will go to all subscribers, not just you.
Subscribing to a Pulse
- Anyone can join a public pulse by sending a text message to 704-323-7775 with the message: JOIN <name of pulse>. They will receive a confirmation text message after subscribing.
- A password is required to join a private pulse. For a private pulse, you have to send out invitations to people who may want to join from the Pulse.to website. This means entering their phone numbers. It is a good idea to notify your students that the invites are coming so they don’t question it’s authenticity.
- For a public Pulse, you could create a QR Code to post on your website or display on a bulletin board in your classroom that would allow students with smart phones to use a scanner app to easily join your pulse. Using their smartphones, students could scan the QR code and their phones would automatically compose a text message to the appropriate number with the appropriate text, that they can then choose to send to complete the subscription.
- To remove people from your Pulse, visit the Subscribers area of your Pulse on the website, and remove the subscriber’s number by clicking the ‘X’ on the right side of the screen.
- Your subscribers can remove themselves anytime. They simply text “leave <pulsename>” to the Pulse number (704-323-7775) and they will be automatically removed. FAQ says to text “END <pulsename>”. So either of these may work.
- You can pulse directly from your mobile phone. Send a text message to 704-323-7775 with the message: “@<pulsename> <message>”. Each pulse you send counts as a single text message, regardless of how many subscribers you have.
- You can pulse directly from the My Pulses page on the Pulse.to website using any device with Internet access and browser.
- You can also connect a Pulse to your Facebook or Twitter account. Anytime you post a tweet or an update, it will be sent as a Pulse message as well.
- “We currently do not carry any advertising sponsorship, so today, no subscribers will receive advertising. However, when we do move to an ad supported model, the advertising will be done in such a way as to not spam the subscriber.”
- “The advertising will ONLY be a part of the actual pulse, appended to the end of the message. That is, they will NOT receive any unsolicited advertising text message – it will only be a part of any outgoing communication you initiate, and it is limited to 20 characters of text as part of your message.”
- “The intent will be to notify users of current specials in the target geographic area of the subscriber, much like a Groupon offer. This special will be appended to the end of your message. In addition, we will not sell the list of subscriber numbers to an advertiser. All advertising is only done through the Pulse.to platform and is therefore controlled by us.”
- “Email us at email@example.com and one of our team members will respond to you faster than you can text!”
- I did get a quick response when I emailed them regarding the use of advertising.
Update February 2012
Pulse.to is moving to a credit-based system. A credit is used when your message is delivered to a user in the Pulse. Credits cost $.15 each. They offer a specialized program for educators. They will automatically credit your account with 250 credits each month, free of charge. If you need additional messages beyond that, you should let them know. In order to qualify for this program, you must email firstname.lastname@example.org with:
1) your Pulse user name
2) your registered email address
3) a small description of how you are using Pulse.to