School Talk: When Communications Fail @Telegram to the Rescue

Communication apps are transforming how we interact, keeping us in touch, helping us share learning and ideas as they happen, as well as engage safeguarding communications from governments and others. At the bottom of this blog post, you will also find a chart created by Texas Area 13 school districts that shared their insights into what tools they use for communication.
Get the no-cost Telegram app (@telegramfor your computer or mobile device

One app that I've embraced, both for family communications as well as at work for emergency communications, is Telegram. If you're not familiar with Telegram, it's a cross-platform app that allows for audio/text group chats, broadcast messages, as well as one to one encrypted communications. In my family, we use the no-cost Telegram as an alternative to WhatsApp and SMS messaging. And, when secure communications are needed, Telegram gets the job done, too.

In one school district, here's how I've advocated its use:
Thank you for your attention to this information. As you know, the District occasionally suffers both phone and Internet outages for a variety of reasons. During these times, District communications are knocked offline, potentially disrupting ongoing activities, communications, and/or instruction. 
Recognizing there is a need for a communication venue independent of District phone, network, and Internet systems, please take these steps:
  1. Install the advertisement free, no-cost Telegram appThis app will work on iPhone, Android phones as well as iOS/Android tablets and web sites.
  1. Go into the Settings of the Telegram app and enter a username.
**NOTE** If you need help, please submit a work order and a Technology Department team member can help you with this.
In the event of an outage, please be aware that you will receive either an audio/text message via Telegram notifying you of the outage. Of course, it will require that your phone be able to receive updates via 4G/LTE service. If you have used WhatsApp, then consider this a free, no-cost alternative.
To that end, I've prepared a tutorial:

If you need to get a quick overview of Telegram (quite similar to WhatsApp if you have used that), you'll find the tutorial below that addresses these components:
  1. About Telegram
  2. Get and Install Telegram
  3. SMS Activation and Registration
  4. Add a Username via Settings
  5. Add a New Contact
  6. Sending an Audio/Text Message via Telegram
  7. Create a New Group
  8. Start a New Chat

1. About Telegram
Telegram is a messaging app--that works with Android and iOS devices--with a focus on speed and security. It’s no-cost, ad-free, and allows you to send audio/text messages easily. 

With Telegram, you can create group chats with up to 200 people so you can stay connected with everyone at once. You can also share videos up to 1GB, send multiple photos from the web, and forward any media you receive in an instant. All your messages are in the cloud, so you can easily access them from any of your devices.

Secret, end to end encrypted Chats are also available and ensure that a message can only be read by its intended recipient. 

2. Get and Install Telegram

Telegram messenger is available for the following (e.g. click the links on your phone to open the Google Play or iTunes App store):

3. SMS activation and registration

When you launch the Telegram app after installing it, you will see the window showing Start Messaging button. Tap (touch and leave) the Start Messaging button.
Tap Start Messaging button in Telegram for Android
In the next displayed screen, Telegram will ask you to select your country and to enter your phone number. After selecting your country and entering your phone number, tap Done at the top-right, Telegram will send an activation code via SMS to this phone number.
Select country and phone number
Enter the code which you received in your SMS from Telegram.

Enter activation code
After verification, Telegram will take you to its registration screen where it will ask you to enter your name. Enter your name then tap Done.

Enter your name in Telegram for Android.

4. Add a Username in Settings
Add a username in settings; this can later be used for others to contact you via convenient web site:

5. Add a new Contact

If you are using your phone number for the first time in Telegram and you don’t have any contacts and chat records associated with this number in Telegram, you will need to add new contacts to start messaging.

Telegram looks for phone numbers in the contacts list of your phone and if any number is associated with a Telegram account, you can see those contacts in Telegram and start messaging them. So if you want to chat with your friend using Telegram, you can ask your friends to register with Telegram and make sure you have their phone numbers in your phone’s contacts list.

Alternatively, you can also invite your friends from other apps like WhatsApp in Telegram. To do this, tap on the menu button of your Android device, select Contacts, tap on Invite Friends, and then select the app from which you want to invite your friends.

6. Sending an Audio/Text Message using Telegram

Unlike most instant messaging clients, Telegram messenger lets you send normal text messages and any type of files. These messages are stored in the cloud. Since normal messages are stored in the cloud, you can synchronize them to all of your devices including your desktops. 

To start a chat in Telegram, tap the new message icon at the top-right, and then select the contact with whom you want to chat. Note that you can also create a group or a broadcast list. The group allows group members to interact with each other, with all their communications being shared among them. The broadcast list allows you to send out information but doesn't allow people to interact.

7. Create a New Group
To create a new group, click on the 3 horizontal bars/lines that appear in the blue bar to the left of the word TelegramThis will let you see the following:

From this screen, you can Invite Friends as well as create a new ways to connect with others, including the following:
  1. New Group - You can use this to have a group conversation--text AND audio--with others. Note that everyone in the group has access to participate and engage in the conversation.
  2. New Secret Chat - enables an encrypted chat with another individual that can be set to expire at a future date.
  3. New Broadcast List - This allows you to send out a "broadcast" message (audio or text) to others but they have no ability to interact with anyone else you broadcast to.
8. Start a New Chat
To start a new chat, tap on the pencil in the bottom right hand corner...looks like this:

You will see the following:

Notice that you can simply start typing or insert an emoticon, tap the paperclip to attach a file, or press and hold on the microphone to quickly record and send an audio message.

TCEA Area 13 Districts Share

Seguin ISD: District, departments, campuses and classrooms use to share events, links, videos, news.
New Braunfels ISD, Comal ISD(Campus News)
Ease of use, variety of media, patron proximity (It’s where they already are.)
New Braunfels ISD- district news
Seguin ISD--districts news, some teachers/programs
Manor ISD- External communication and Internal celebrations; Monthly Twitter Chat (3rd Tuesday, #ManorISD) for teacher PD credit.
Del Valle ISD - district account (district announcements, events, etc.), Instructional Tech dept account (tech news, training announcements, etc.)
Comal ISD(district and campus announcements)


Free, push notification, scalable
Navarro ISD
post on website and Tweet at the same time
School Messenger

Del Valle ISD
Liberty Hill ISD
Round Rock ISD
New Braunfels ISD
call, email, tweet, and post to site at the same time
Your Voice

Google Sites
share with everyone
Round Rock ISD
not limited by platform
Google Communities
RRISD:  Multiple communities that have become the basis for learning community chatter and sharing
Manor ISD- Leadership Team and Novice teacher program
must be a GAFE district, but is easy to use and attractive
Seguin: Teachers, coaches use to send reminders, news, etc.
Comal ISD: Used in the high schools

K12 Alerts
Navarro ISD text, email, and voice messaging
Call, email, tweet and at the same time
RRISD: Transitioning all sites above teacher sites to a robust Wordpress
Comal ISD: many teachers have transitioned to Wordpress from IWeb.
Can populate content across multiple sites and our Comm dept can control style and improve info flow.
Google Hangout
Manor ISD-Video Conferencing
Zoom is part of ESC 13 services
Face to face conferencing across district without rushing around to meetings.
Google Hangout

This app can be loaded on staff phones (iOS/Android/Win) and can run parallel to District network when Voice/Internet communications are out.
Here is a brief tutorial of how ECISD uses it -
ParentLink App
Cost $$$
Enables an app to be share info with parents, students, etc. that is flowing from RSS feeds across district. Loads specific calendars, etc.
ParentLink also provides for a phone/SMS text messaging system for contacting parents.


Georgetown ISD Communications-

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


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