Aug 12 2021

When people talk about industries, the word ‘education’ rarely springs up in conversation. But lo and behold, education is one of the world’s largest industries. 

It’s quite fitting, really. The largest industries in the world tend to provide essential products and services that improve the lives of billions of people around the world. Education certainly fits the bill, helping society grow and learn while also making up more than 6% of global GDP. Total global education expenditure from governments, enterprises, and consumers combined is on track to hit a massive $7.3 trillion come 2025.

An evolving landscape

When COVID-19 landed, the world was in many ways clueless on how to combat it. Measures were disjointed, with little to no coherent transnational strategies. Education has been one industry sent through the wringer, with learners particularly impacted.

And while the education sector is a behemoth spender, compared to other industries of its importance, education globally has been starved of the capital it truly needs to flourish in the digital age. Educators worldwide have found themselves on the backfoot. The strain of resources, mixed with the sudden closures of many schools worldwide – painful digital transformation beckoned. 

Unfortunately, the education sector had been a digital laggard, with less than 4% of overall expenditure allocated to digital services, presenting a serious challenge in pandemic times. The challenge continues to mount when looking forward, given the scale of population growth and political priorities over the next few decades.

Not all is lost though – progress is happening! The pandemic ratcheted up the digital transformation in all areas of our lives and education is not an exception. Teachers and students alike are increasingly getting their hands on digital toolboxes, ranging from online courses to virtual learning systems and, of course, the increasingly ubiquitous mobile devices and digital textbooks.

Maximizing with what we have

While progress is promising, money doesn’t grow on trees, and the education industry has to leverage every tool at its disposal. Luckily, there’s an affordable digital tool sitting in plain sight. One that has existed for almost 30 years and absolutely can – and should be – used for education. This tool is, of course, the humble SMS. 

Over 5 billion people worldwide use SMS daily, and most of those individuals feel comfortable receiving content from their service providers. We think that education should be no different. 

Let’s have a look at some of the ways SMS could be used throughout the education lifecycle for two-way communication while maximizing efficiencies and improving engagement along the way.

Who’s all coming? 

From recruitment to attract new learners through to graduation ceremonies, SMS is perfect for delivering updates, reminders, and general information. Barely 20% of emails are read, but the open rate jumps to well over 95% with SMS. And the majority of text messages are read within 3 minutes!

Are we ready? 

The past 17 months have shown us that we must prepare ourselves for the worst. SMS allows stakeholders to be notified rapidly about unplanned school closures, adverse weather, technical issues, or security threats. SMS messages do not go ignored.

Bueller? Bueller? 

Enable parents to text administrators if a child is ill and can’t make it into class that day. Or, on the flip side, if their child is unexpectedly absent, schools could grab parents’ attention with an SMS alert.

Testing, testing? 

No education experience is complete without exams. While every student expects exams, they still typically induce stress. Why not relive some of that by sending exam confirmations and subsequent reminders via an easy-to-use channel. Students could also receive alerts that test scores have been posted to their student portal. 

What do you think? 

Take the pulse of the student body with two-way surveys using SMS. Get instant feedback on how learners and faculty feel about a specific issue. As long as these are kept short and personalized, you’re far more likely to get engagement than via email. 

Where are they now? 

The ultimate aim of education is to prepare people for the real world by equipping them for the jobs market. Exams are only one metric for evaluating an educational establishment’s success. Follow up with alumni once they have left and ask them what they’ve been able to accomplish. In what career pathway have they found themselves? Are they furthering their education? This engagement is the acid test, and the information can be PR gold.

Gone are the days of typewriters and number two pencils. Education is evolving, and SMS is an excellent channel for engagement between learners and their educators. 

Mitto knows the importance of excellent education. Our suite of omnichannel communications solutions will have students set up for success in no time.