AwayFind is a powerful web application that lets you route urgent email messages - from specific people or topics - to SMS, IM, or Voice.
I am looking forward to using AwayFind with my students this year. Generally speaking, they are tied at the hip to their mobile phones and love sending and receiving text messages!! The same cannot be said for using their email accounts, which they may or may not check periodically.
Now, with AwayFind I can send an email message to my students (as a whole group or individually) and have it sent on to their mobile phones. The message is only forwarded if the email account is not open when the message is received. The actual message also remains in the inbox.
And what is even better is that AwayFind is free (for the moment anyway) and is part of the Google Apps Marketplace integrating perfectly with a Google Apps account.
The SMS message can be activated by the content of the email subject line, so once you have an agreed 'trigger' then you can pass this keyword on to any other teachers or administrators that may need to contact the students as well.
This means that students can be contacted on their mobile phones, by their class teachers, without having to pass on their phone details. And teachers don't have to worry about using their mobile phones to contact students. That's got to be a Win-Win situation!
I think this system will work really well with short messages or notices. Messages over a length of 50 characters will be split over several SMS messages. This could become a bit annoying if a lot of long messages were being sent! However, you could use the initial short message as a prompt for students to check their email for a second more detailed communication.