Common Sense Review
Updated December 2013


Flexible mobile social network can help classrooms communicate
Common Sense Rating 3
  • Users can create "conversations" that feature open chats, curated messages, or alerts.
  • Teachers can use Celly to poll or quiz their students, a great feature in a bring-your-own-device school culture.
  • Users can schedule a message in advance. Teachers might use this to schedule a reminder for students.
  • Celly's developers are eager to offer tips and examples to teachers, and the website's support resources are extensive.
  • The setup guide is extensive and easy to read, making adoption a snap.
A flexible, private way for teachers and students to interact digitally.
Context is key; teachers should be sure to use the medium cautiously to foster meaningful, productive conversation.
Bottom Line
Celly has potential as a tool teachers can use to connect with students (and even parents) beyond the classroom.
Patricia Monticello Kievlan
Common Sense Reviewer
Foundation/Non-Profit Member
Common Sense Rating 3
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

It's all about sharing information on mobile devices. Students who find it engaging to text will likely be drawn tools like this. Some students may wish to limit mobile communication only to their social lives.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 3

While it has potential as a school resource, learning content isn't built in. Designed to help convey information and support learning, it isn't necessarily built to measure or foster the academic learning.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

The companion website features numerous resources -- the school sections are helpful and thoughtfully written. The app plays well with the built-in iOS accessibility tools -- it can be a good fit for users of varying abilities.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Celly's developers have called it "a private version of Twitter," and the app shares Twitter's strengths and limitations. Aside from efficient communication with a large audience, it also offers opportunities to learn about digital citizenship. Any time you create a "cell," it's important to communicate clear expectations and ground rules with your students. If it's an "open chat" cell, teachers should instruct students on what sorts of conversations are appropriate for their class. If the cell is "curated" or "alert only," the teacher should also let students know what sorts of messages to expect.

The polling tool can be part of a class discussion, or you can use it as a milestone when transitioning between units. You can also use Celly to communicate about homework and other general updates. School- or district-level administrators could even use the app to send alerts and updates in the event of an emergency.

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What's It Like?

Celly is a mobile social network that can be kept private among groups. While the app was popularized by its use in the Occupy Wall Street movement, Celly can do more than organize protesters. With an intuitive user interface, it can serve as an easy way for teachers to push messages and information to their students on their mobile devices. There's also a tool for posting quick and simple opinion polls.

Celly's developers are increasingly focused on the app's implications for education. They've rolled out a "Celly for Leaders" package that includes some custom features like quizzes and message scheduling. The companion website features an array of resources to help teachers adopt the app, with a live chat option, tutorial videos, FAQ's, as well as a few case studies.

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Is It Good For Learning?

Adopting Celly for the classroom can be as much about the content of your messages as it's about the context in which you send them. The premise relies on the notion that students have access to a mobile device, and that they're likely to respond to messages. While this may be true for some students, it may not be the case for all, and that's worth considering -- Celly's desktop version isn't as versatile or easy to use. 

One of the app's best features is its polling tool: teachers can send a poll to students to instantly gather feedback. When using the app simply for messages, it's important for teachers to consider the best practices for online communication with students, as well as ways to be stewards and models of positive digital citizenship. Overall, Celly can be a great way to contact students through a medium they're (likely) already using. While its inherent educational potential may be limited, it can be a great tool to augment classroom instruction. 

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