EduTech is a 9to5Mac weekly series that focuses on technology’s application in education, lower and higher level, both for productivity and enjoyment. If you have suggestions for topics or specific questions you’d like to see answered, feel free to let me know. Catch up on past installments here

In education, group communication is almost essential. Whether you’re a student working through a dreadful group project, or a teacher communicating with colleagues, group communication is a must.

A variety of applications exist that make group communication incredibly easy. Read on as we highlight one of the best, while also offering some alternatives…

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While my first choice for group message is also to simply use iMessage, I quickly realized that it’s not always possible due to the plethora of people who use Android. And SMS group messaging is not a pleasant experience in the slightest.

When working in educational group messages, there are a few things that are a must-have. This includes seamless image and media support, cross-platform availability, notification support, and more.

When iMessage isn’t an option, my go-to group communication app is GroupMe.

GroupMe

GroupMe originally launched as a TechCrunch Disrupt product, receiving $10.6 million in venture capital. A year later, however, Skype acquired GroupMe for $80 million.

GroupMe is a group communication app that rose to popularity largely due to its use in educational environments, especially in colleges. GroupMe is cross-platform, available on iOS, Android, and the web, something that, again, is crucial for educational group messaging. Additionally, in the United States, GroupMe supports SMS messages, meaning those who don’t have the app can still send and receive messages, albeit in a more limited fashion.

When you first open GroupMe, you’ll see the option to sign in with either your Facebook or Twitter account, or to create an account using your name, cell phone number, and email address. Once you’ve done that, GroupMe will ask for permission to sync your contacts and see who is already a GroupMe member. While I’m generally hesitant to give applications access to my contacts, I’ve never had an issue doing it with GroupMe.

Once the behind-the-scenes setup is complete, you can build up your profile by adding things such as a profile picture, and then you’re ready to start chatting.

The GroupMe interface will be familiar to anyone who has used iMessage before, offering a simple home screen of your active threads. Inside of a thread, you can see inline images, videos, and documents, as well as the ability to “like” a message, which is a good way of signaling your agreement without the thread becoming cluttered.

GroupMe is the best way to chat with everyone you know. It’s absolutely free, whether you’re talking to a group of friends, or texting with one person. Best of all, it works on nearly every phone, via push or SMS. With GroupMe, it’s easy to reach anyone, anytime, anywhere.

GroupMe is available as a free download from the App Store.

Alternatives

The market is ripe with alternatives to GroupMe, but few feature the cross platform support and integration that GroupMe does. For instance, there’s Slack, but it’s not as easy to use and doesn’t necessarily make as much sense in education as GroupMe does, considering the varying groups students are often a member of.

Nevertheless, below are some viable alternatives to GroupMe:

Wrap Up

While GroupMe takes the cake in my opinion, what are your thoughts on group messaging on iOS? I still prefer to use iMessage when possible, but for cross-platform support, what do you think?

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