Effective communication is key in the educational environment.   In the past we have shared similar resources, but we always strive to take stakeholder communication to a new level.  That is where Celly comes into play.  Celly is basically a social media network for communication that not only allows you as a teacher to send direct messages to your students and parents as a group, but it can diversify how that is done.   The messages can be sent via text (sms), email, or on the web.  Celly is available as a web based interface, and also has Android and IOS apps.   Using Celly a teacher can create a “cell” of users and invite people to that cell.  You can limit the discussion to a one way communication from you to your stakeholders, or you can open it up to a forum-type of discussion board, the decision is yours.  Share images, videos, links, files and more… As with many web tools, most features are free, but they do hold some premium features back for paid accounts.  With a monthly paid Celly for Leaders account you can also use it for informal polls of your class or parents.

How to Get Started

You can sign up for Celly on the web, it is free for the basic account and easy to do.   Start by going to cel.ly on the web and create an account using email, Facebook, Twitter or your Google account.  Once in Celly, you will want to create a cell and invite members to it.  When you create the cell you can change the settings so to limit or open the type of communication you want in the cell.  The following videos go over getting an account set up, starting a cell (with settings), and inviting others to be members of your cell.

Suggested Uses

  • send a daily reminder of what to expect in class
  • recap classroom experiences
  • homework and assessment reminders
  • poll the class for extention activities
  • exit tickets
  • asnwer student questions outside of class
  • sharing files with the class
  • Flipped classroom video link curation
  • ???

Why it Matters (Teaching Rubric)

An effective communication system in the classroom leads to a Respectful Culture (essential competency 3.4) by communicating in a way that is professional, positive, and inclusive of all students.   By regularly sharing information about the classroom to families, responding promptly to contact from parents, and developing activities designed to engage families successfully, Celly can help you provide a venue for Stakeholder Engagement and Communication (competency 4.4).

Additional Resources

Celly is not the first communication resource we have shared on the 30 Day Challenge over the last few years and it’s not exactly new, but it does have useful new features that fill a gap in other text based communication systems.  Additional similar resources for text communication include Remind (formerly Remind101), ClassPager, and KikuText.

All of these resources allow one-way communication via text with annonymous phone numbers so that the teacher doesn’t know the student / parent numbers and vice versa.  Traditional social media networks like Facebook also provide the additional social aspects in Celly, but at the cost of a more open network (which is not necessarily bad, but it is different).  LMS solutions like My Big Campus and Edmodo also provide the communication and social media options, but come at a cost of more difficult setup for all stakeholders,… namely parents.

Your Challenge

Your first challenge is to look at the options in a communication tool like Celly and reflect on how you could use this resource to enhance communication with the stakeholders in your classes / school.  Share those reflections in the comments below and if you have another great communication tool please feel free to add it to your comments as well.   Commenting on others responses is a great way to share ideas and make educational connections, just remember that “active participation” is more than just an “attaboy” for someone else.  Enjoy!


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Kris is part of the Innovation, Curriculum, and Technology Specialist (ICATS) team with the EVSC. He has been with the EVSC for 15 years and has been a classroom teacher and coach at the middle and high school level. He taught biology, general science, and technology education courses during that time. As part of the ICATS team Kris has been directly involved with many areas of focus for support of classroom teachers, including: 1:1 initiative, Apple products, Google apps, My Big Campus (LMS) Certified Coach, RDS gradebook system, and web tools. Education: B.S. Michigan Technological University (Biological Sciences) M.A. Ball State University (Technology Education)

67 COMMENTS

  1. I really love that more and more teachers are using tools like Celly to communicate with parents and students. My daughter’s teacher regularly uses Remind to send us updates about what is going on that day in class. I also like that she uses several different ways to communicate information, including Facebook, Weebly, Twitter, and Remind. In this connected world, we need to reach parents where they are, and as our student’s parents get younger, reaching them through social media and text is becoming the most effective way to get messages home.

  2. Wow! I know a lot of teachers and coaches who use Remind but feel it falls a few features short of what is truly needed for communicating with students and parents. Celly appears to give those teachers/coaches what they need. I also really like the fact that it integrates with Google Drive and Twitter. I think kids would like the themes and avatars.

    • Wow is right! While I like Remind as safe and effective communication from teachers to students/parents, it doesn’t allow students to text back with questions. Celly has great options to encourage students to ask questions. It also looks like it can be used for sending questions during a presentation, much like a back channel on Twitter.

    • I completely agree! I use Remind frequently for my classes and have enjoyed using it, but also feel it falls short, specifically regarding two-way communication. I really like the idea of switching to this instead!

  3. I use Remind (Remind101) and my high school students love it. I have invited all of the parents to sign up as well as the students. The parents like the “dates to know” that I send out before something big is due. Students like the quick reminder to bring textbooks, specific supply or packet to class. They too comment on liking the dates to know, and don’t mind parents reminding them from their remind note. I think for this quick communication to be effective for high schoolers; it should be brief (text) and not have added attachments. And, it shouldn’t be daily. I try to limit it to two times per unit of study.

    • I agree Leah, short and to the point is best and not too frequent or they start ignoring them. I want them to think “oh, this is from Mrs. K it must be important” any time they see a ext from me.

  4. Programs like Celly and Remind work great with high school students because it gets them whee they live, inside the phones!!. I have used Remind but like some of the features that Celly has and may be doing a switch. I have seen an up-tick in quiz scores since I started using Remind and am getting a lot less groaning because they forgot we were having a quiz.

  5. The problem I have had with Remind is the fact I couldn’t get everyone I wanted to sign up to register. I only had a few good students and their parents sign up. The ones who could really benefit from the use of this program are either too lazy to sign up or never got the information home to begin with. I need a way to force all my students to have this on their devices.

    • Buy in can be difficult for any classroom. Remind and Celly work the same in that they need the student/parent to take action on their end. But with that in mind, even if you could push the communication out, it still does not guarantee that they would take notice of it.. It is all a question of the value they place in the communication. The more value, the more likely they are to look. We always suggest multiple ways to communicate the information (ex: email, Remind / Celly, Facebook, Twitter,.. etc.) that way you are more likely to reach your audience.

    • This is the same thought I am having. I am not sure how I can get the parents I “need” to communication with to sign up.

  6. I love using Remind (AKA Remind 101) to notify parents of upcoming tests, material that will be on the tests, reminders about daily school activities that are happening, sports reminders, etc. I like the fact that Celly has the question option for students or parents to ask still without knowing your number. I love the idea of polls and videos being able to be used by both parties. The collaboration piece of communication for teachers, students, and parents alike is awesome! I use many exit tickets and quick responses with my class so this lends itself to this as well. Does anyone know if there is a limit on characters that you can enter? Thanks

  7. I have played with Celly a little and have thought about using it with my classes. I presently use Remind and have a Facebook page for parents to like, but I am thinking that I may use Celly next year instead. Communicating with parents is an area that I am working to improve upon. I am thinking about using Celly as a hub for communication for a robotics team.

  8. After watching the introduction video, I was interested in Celly and opened an account. The first thing I noticed is how cluttered the interface is. It combines aspects of Facebook, Twitter, Remind, and SurveyMonkey. I actively use Facebook, Twitter and Remind in my classroom and have had success using these communication tools. However, I was quite interested in the polling aspect of Celly. I tried to make a poll and was prompted to a 30 day free trial in order to test the polling function only to find that in order to get a free trial, you must first purchase a “Celly for Leaders” subscription. I don’t believe that it is necessary to purchase a subscription for the polling feature when there are so many survey sites you can use for free (SurveyMonkey, Google Forms survey function, etc.). Although it might be nice to have all of these communication tools combined, right now my favorite communication tools are Facebook, Twitter and Remind.

  9. Celly looks like it will work great for older students. I teach in an elementary school and think that it will be an effective form of communication with the students’ parents. The intro and tutorial videos were easy to follow, which makes me less apprehensive about trying new technology.

    • In an elementary setting, I agree that you would be targeting communication to the parents. This is just an additional way to get your message out. Digital newsletters are also common in many elementary schools. It’s all about making the communication acccessible to your stakeholders. Thanks for the comment!

  10. I like the direct communication offered by Remind101 and Cel.ly. My Weebly websites include weekly and long term calendars and “To Do” lists for my students, but they have to take the initiative to check the Weebly site. With Remind101 and Cel.ly, I can connect with students directly – given that they have signed up for the service. I experienced the same low return as others have mentioned and am thinking of strategies I can use to increase my sign-up rate.

  11. At first I thought this was going to be a great connection for PLCs. After playing with on and off for a couple a hours, I am more frustrated with it than impressed with it. As I was looking for different groups to join, I was having a hard time finding cells that were specific to my subject matter (computers).

    I teach at the middle school level and my students have admitted to not checking their email on a regular basis, so even with the notifications, I don’t think the students will use it at well. Parents might like it, but typically, if my students are getting less than a C, I am calling and talking to the parents already.

    • Think of Celly as more of a closed communication network. You would need to create a cell and add or invite others to it. In this sense it is more like Remind, but with more options. It is not an open PLC network where there are already groups for you to join. As with all web tools there is a standard set of things it can do.

  12. I’ve used Remind for the past year and have loved it. However, I’m intrigued by Celly’s feature to allow responses from parents and students. Both appear to be very user friendly (a must for teacher buy in) and have unlimited applications for classroom teachers, administrators and coaches.

    I would also caution over using and “spamming” your subscribers!

  13. I use Remind 101 and google classroom in my classes currently. However, I am also part of a teacher gorup that uses Celly. The one thing I have not liked about Celly is the amount of notifications I have gotten. The group I am in uses to contact the group to make group decisions quickly, which is great and handy. However, I do not always need to see what others have decided. If we are voting on a particular issue, with a yes or no, I do not need to see all the votes and who voted for what choice. I just need a total. Celly does not keep votes anonymous like a google form would allow you to do, at least how my group uses it. I may just need to look into it further, though.

    • Thanks for sharing how you have used Celly! I’m not sure about the poll notifications, but the Cells themselves have 3 basic settings which they call chat modes. 1) “Curated chat” – you send messages to everyone, but replies are private. 2) “Open chat” – everyone sends to everyone 3) “Alert Only” – One way communication only. I bet that your group is set to open chat. It is good to open communication, but the site does caution that the open chat setting can result in “alot of messages” and cautions against the setting for anything other than a small group. This really boils down to what you want to use the communication for but there are choices…. Thanks again for joining in!

  14. How does Celly compare with Twitter? I’ve never used Twitter but have a feeling my students will want me to use it instead of Celly since most of them are (constantly) on Twitter anyway.

    • They are both communication resources, but there is a significant difference. Celly has the option of being a closed communication group. You create the group and then invite others to the group (cell). The members of the group can get their messages via text, which is nice. So does Remind, Facebook, and any LMS depending on your settings. Twitter is generally a very public communication system. That is not neccessarily a bad thing and I would mention that it is important to meet the students where they are at digitally. When you communicate with Twitter, you send a public message that is only filtered by the hashtag (#) you place on it. So anyone can generally find and see your “Tweets”. Again not necessarily bad just something to consider for classroom communication.

  15. Our high school is a 1 to 1 school. Every student has an iPad. We do have a mass communication program currently but we are restricted to using school e-mail, twitter or facebook accounts. Purchasing something like this sounds like a great way to get the entire school on one communication unit. Our kids will answer their phones no matter what but they only use their iPads for homework not necessarily for communicating with teachers. So, switching to a program like this sounds like a great way to have us all on the same page. Further, since kids always have their phones with them, the immediate communication response would increase tremendously.

    • Most of the features in Celly are free. There are of course pieces to most online web tools that cost extra to add or get rid of as well if they are important enough to you to pay for them. We try to emphasis the ability of the free portion of the tools that we discuss. That said I totally agree about the cell phone issue. It is definetly something we need to consider as more and more of the students are carrying globally connected devices in their pockets! Time to make sure they can use them to learn too!

  16. Our principal uses Celly to communiate important school information. He has groups for both teachers and parents, and uses it to let people know about schedule changes (such as snow days) or important events.

  17. It is so important to communicate with students and parents, especially when working in SPED. Celly will help me a lot because I will be able to relay messages to parents that pertain to all of the students. Currently I write in agenda books daily, and when there is an announcement for all students, I either type out one message, copy it and send it home, or I write the message in each agenda book. I am hoping the parents catch onto Celly too.

  18. I’m interested in seeing if a tool like Cel.ly can be used on a much larger scale, such as a principal to an entire student body or to all parents in the community. Perhaps the setting for 1-way communication would be appropriate in that instance.

  19. Being an occupational therapist in the EVSC, I wouldn’t get to use Cel.ly in my school job but I would like to try it out this summer when I teach as an adjunct at USI. So many times this summer during my class I needed to send a quick message, changes and reminders to the entire class. Great features!

  20. Student buy-in seems to be a problem across the board with whatever technology is being used for outside communication. Those that really need to access it are the same ones that haven’t taken the initiative to join. However, it’s a great tool for parent/teacher communication which makes things easier on both ends!

  21. Celly seems to be an option for quick group communication to parents/ students. My concern or thought might be the buy in with some students. Also there are students who do not have cell phones nor computers at home. I agree that messages should be short and infrequent so as not to lose students interest

    • Cathy,
      Thanks for joining in, looking forward to more comments from you! Remember as you go through the challenge that not all resources are ideal for every setting. Buy in is always difficult for new resources, but the real hook is when the resource becomes important if they don’t have it. Sometimes it is a date for something, sometimes it is the assignment, sometimes it is a reminder or what’s coming up. Whatever it is, if you want it to be needed, place value in what you share there and that will help.

  22. I like how it comes to the phone, and you don’t have to constantly be checking your email or facebook account. I have never used Remind, so this is new to me. I also like how you can set it up for the students to respond or not respond to your texts. I really like how you can just send it to one child or parent to work with a child individually. I can definitely see me using with the students at school

  23. I love celly. Last year I really advocated for teachers to use Remind101 in their classrooms. Many of my teachers at the HS level were initially reluctant to try communication tools with students and parents. However, with a little coazing – and some AMAZING teachers who were willing to be guinea pigs, we now have several teachers using Remind101. Now, the culture is changing and our expectations about home-school communication are changing. Parents frequently comment on how much they love and appreciate the communication. This year, I have started introducing my teachers to Celly and they are loving it! They enjoy the ability to have different levels of communication with different groups of people. They love the flexibility and the ease of use! This year, we have formed a student technology leadership team at our HS (in preparation for our upcoming 1:1) and we are using celly to communicate with them!

  24. If this posted already I’m sorry. I am glad I read this. I did not realize Celly existed. I knew my kids teachers would sent them reminders about test and assignment due date, but I thought they were doing like I did, get everyone’s email and cell number put them in a group and send. This sounds a lot easier. I will be using this next se3mester.
    Thanks for the info.

  25. I have been using texting and Facebook as one way to communicate with my parents, but I do not like that they have access to all my personal information. This is one idea I am going to try to set up. I would be interested to hear if other teachers preferred Remind or Celly for parent communication. I also think it will be a challenge to get all my parents to buy into it. I do not think I would use it with my students yet. They do have netbooks, but are just learning how to navigate them.

  26. I use celly to communicate with my classes. I am in charge of the school web design class. A few of the students help run the school website. I used celly with them to communicate over the break. We scheduled a time to meet up and finish working on the school site. The nice thing is that they get the info immediately. Not all students will regularly check their email, so this is great. Students have even requested that I please send home the flipped video lessons in this manner because they are more likely to finish their homework with the link being right there. I also like that they don’t have my actual phone number. You can turn off the two way communication at any time. I usually have all of my students get their phone out and sign up right in class.

  27. I have really taken more preference to Remind (101) and use of Twitter to get information out to groups and teams. I like how Celly allows the teacher to create their different groups from those signed up where Remind the student/parent needs to sign up for each group separately because some kids could be grouped in different ways all under the same account.

  28. Within our school community, this social media resource gives me the opportunity to push out information in multiple forums. Inviting parents and my students as members is an added check and balance between home and school. At the intermediate level, there are so many irons in the fire, it is great to know Remind would give them a heads up on my agenda.

  29. I am already using Remind to communicate with parents and students, but am open to trying this. It sounds like it would be a good way to communicate and collaborate with other teachers in PLCs.

  30. I like this idea. I have not yet used a remind system for cell/text messages, but am hoping to start soon. My children get these frequently from their teachers, and they love it. My goal is to get set up by Thanksgiving!

  31. I began using Remind101 (Remind) at the beginning of this school year after being shown this handy tool by a fellow teacher. Celly is similar to Remind in many ways but takes it to another level for those teachers and coaches who are tech savvy, highly organized, and wants to communicate frequently with their students, parents, or groups. I liked the idea of using for exit tickets and sharing documents but I’m not sure I’m ready to take the jump yet. I agree with Mrs. Simon who says she tries to limit Remind text messages to one or two a unit. Once it becomes frequent it loses some of the importance (i.e. EVSC Robocalls).

  32. Celly looks so much like Twitter that the students will instantly understand how to use it. I like the fact that this could replace multiple outlets for me: My Big Campus for posting expectations and assignments, and Remind 101 for messaging straight to students. I could also see myself using this as a substitute for Twitter hashtag conversations/polls/surveys during or after class. The students would be much more interested in this service than My Big Campus or Remind 101.

  33. I really like the fact that you can communicate through a variety of medias. I used Remind a lot last year and got frustrated with the simplicity of it. Sending text was great, but it left me wanting more. I also felt that by sending every test date and due date I was taking away some of the responsibility that we want our middle school students to develop. We use Sycamoreeducation.com as our school and teacher information portal, but we find that it is often not used by our students and families. Why is this? I think it is because they have to come to Sycamore on their own and look for information. It is nice that resources like Celly actual push the information to the students and families so they will be more likely to actually use the resources we create. There is nothing more heartbreaking than knowing you spent hours putting something together and then seeing the “view” counter never move from zero. Most of our students have access to technology the real challenge is getting them to use it the way that we want!

  34. My son’s teachers starting using REMIND and I love it. We use Facebook as well to post info but this seems like a great tool for parents. I LOVE the poll option. With an elementary class I will be looking solely at the parent aspect more but still very beneficial.

  35. This technology could be very useful at the postsecondary level. I have noticed that my students don’t check their email very often. They prefer communication to take place via texting or social media. Some of my colleagues use Remind in their courses, but I wasn’t interested in using that because communication is just one way. Our learning management system allows us to post announcements and share those with students by email, which allows for two-way communication, but lacks the ability to be delivered by text. I like that Cel.ly allows for that two-way communication through a number of delivery methods in a private fashion – no need to mingle personal and professional social media accounts. As I was reading through some of the testimonials on the website, I noticed one teacher shared the link to his “cell” by including a QR code on his syllabus. I would like to test this out some more – does anyone know if Cel.ly allows you to pre-set the reminders you want to share with you students so they would be delivered at a certain day and time?

  36. Hello All, Just joining in on the 30 day challenge. Like many others who have commented, I use Remind. The benefit of having students be able to ask a question is an added bonus with Celly, but honestly, I have been happy with Remind. We have a calendar for students to view to see what is due and when. If I send out a reminder via email or Remind, I feel that is sufficient. Communicating what is going on in our classrooms for parents to enjoy is one thing, but I don’t feel the responsibility of making sure the students’ work is turned in or that they are reminded in many ways about a project or quiz should fall on our shoulders. In the real world, students will need to learn to keep track of deadlines, due dates, etc., and they need to learn to check calendars, set reminders for themselves, etc. Hope this doesn’t sound too harsh.

  37. Celly can be used to start a discussion about a certain problem for the next days class. I would post an image or video to my students and let that drive my opening topic for the next day. Students will be curious about the topics I send which will get other students on board for discussion.

  38. I already use Remind 101 in my classroom, but this looks like something I could definitely use instead. I like the fact that I would be able to send files and images, instead of just messages that I can right now with Remind101. Is there a way for students to send feedback back to you? That is one thing I wish we could do. I know that students can use their emails, but it would be nice to be able to send a text and the kids can respond without having to give my students my phone number.

  39. I currently use Remind and a grade level Facebook page for quick parent reminders, updates, etc., but I an see Celly being a great way to increase the types of communication I can use with my parents. I wasn’t fond of how jumbled things looked on the interface, but I did really like the possibilities of doing surveys with parents, sending more digital content to them in ways other than PDF, etc. I do like the simplicity of Remind, but this gives me more communication power.

  40. I hope to explore Celly further when time allows. My initial thought is that I am not in need of another direct communication tool. However, it will be worth it to check into further. I communicate a lot through our Harmony mass email, but am thinking using Remind or Celly is a quicker and more effective way to send messages out once it is set up.

  41. Clear, precise communication is the key to success as a teacher communicating with students or parents. Celly/Remind is a great tool to send updates to parents about what is happening or what is needs attention in the classroom. Shutterfly/Weebly/Facebook LMS tools are great tools! I have used Shutterfly. It allows much information to be shared, documented, commented on, but is kept private and only accessible to those who are permitted. I am a big proponent of privacy. I love using these tools!

  42. I use Remind for parent communication about what is going on in the classroom as far as assignments, caught ya, etc. It’s not just a tool to use for reminders, but I use it as a Shout Out, too! I’m curious to see how Celly compares. I also like the idea to pose questions as bonus points or bell ringer work!

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