Social Networking | News

Celly Adds Hashtags, Automatic Message Refreshing

Celly, a Web-based tool that enables communication among teachers, students, and parents, has launched an update.

It creates mini social networks called cells that connect people with interests in similar topics. A cell can include anybody with a cellphone, people from existing social networks, or web feeds. Users can define filters based on hashtags, location, time, and user identity. Celly only supports text messages (no photos).

Examples of how Celly can be used at schools are:

  • Educators can create study groups where classmates can be connected beyond school hours to coordinate activities and collaborate on homework;
  • Counselors can form mentoring groups where underclassmen can communicate any time with upperclassmen leaders;
  • Coaches can receive status updates from students participating in athletic teams;
  • Administrators can text parents alerting them about weather-related closures, student progress reports, or on-campus activities;
  • Schools can use Celly to coordinate fundraising events. Cells can be used to send donation requests to opt-in subscribers. Classified items can be posted in Cells devoted to for sale, lost and found, help wanted, etc.; and
  • Students can organize events, clubs, games, and meetings.

Members can join and participate in a cell without having to exchange phone numbers, and new members can join a cell by name by texting the cell's identifier. Moderation prevents spamming of large groups with swarms of chat messages and enables the cell moderator to guard against abuse, such as cyberbullying. Moderators can control how and who joins a cell.

New features of Celly include:

  • Receptors are filters that connect a cell to Internet streams. Users can add receptors to a cell so messages are automatically populated from blog updates, Twitter feeds, or RSS streams. These can be filtered by keyword or hashtag to create curated personal learning networks;
  • Counselors can form mentoring groups where underclassmen can communicate any time with upperclassmen leaders;
  • A public cell directory allows users to find cells with similar interests by searching;
  • Hashtags have been auto-linked to search the inbox to help find content;
  • Polls that can be set for a time limit, or can run for an indefinite length; and
  • Messages are automatically refreshed on the Web site.

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About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @editortim.