FrontlineSMS let users send, receive and manage SMS over a mobile network.

Recently I shared some ideas w/Josh & Ken about a potential module for FrontlineSMS that would focus on application in education & training settings. I threw out the name "FrontlineSMS:Learn," inspired by the FrontlineSMS:Medic & FrontlineSMS:Credit monikers. Here is some of the functionality that, based on my experience, I thought might be useful:

Short term:
- Quizzes/Assessments
- Polling w/chart visualization (for real-time use in the classroom)
- Learning reinforcement messages (scheduled or real-time)
- Virtual study groups (think discussion group or bulletin board)
- Event notifications/reminders (exams, holidays, conferences, etc)

Integration w/LMS (e.g. Moodle)

What do folks think? Would this be useful functionality for an education &/or training setting? What would you remove from the list? What would you modify? What would you add?

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Replies to This Discussion

James, you are right on with this advocacy, a great idea - I have a need for this here in Bangladesh with the SHIKON education program. Just discussing it last night using FLSMS with the Deputy Director of Save the Children. Timely, once again!
Save the Children is exiting from a five year program in Barisal, Bangladesh and does not want to lose entirely the capacity built up with the teachers. FLSMS: Education will allow the continued connection
Hi James and all,
(and thx John for sending this project around)

The frontlinesms learn feels very appealing. I am currently involved in some mobile projects in infrastructure challenged areas (a mobile survey project for veterinary research in SA, a mobile learning project in Peru using mobile moodle as the mobile learning platform - so I am for the mobile moodle suggestion), continued medical education via mobiles, and enabling mobiles to access an HIV/AIDS telemedicine forum). But I am looking for sms-solutions for a Nepal maternity support project that some health care workers are trying to set up. The frontlinesms:Learn might be a solution for this.

Surveys might be an interesting addition to the short term list, as it can be used to improve the pilot version (once this would be launched)?

Great intitiative!
Hi all,

This is a very interesting thread. Josh and I spoke about this topic a little while ago and an important point for me was the importance of specific use cases for something like FrontlineSMS:Learn. In South Africa the cost of SMSes is very high, but if FrontlineSMS:Learn adds value in a way that is cheaper than comparable options, or if it provides the only plausible solution to a particular problem, then it becomes an attractive option. So while SMS isn't the right fit for every situation, it is the *perfect* solution for some situations. I'm thinking of rural areas in particular. I think "Learning reinforcement messages (scheduled or real-time)" and "Event notifications/reminders (exams, holidays, conferences, etc)" would work well for teacher motivation and education administration (especially in rural areas).

Josh, previously you spoke about using FLSMS:Learn for "Longitudinal tracking of learners'/students' profiles, participation, scores, etc. We can likely adapt PatientView [for medical records], and there's a well-established learning management system to link into." So you can add, edit and view records via SMS and the SMS and FrontlineForms submissions becomes searchable and sortable, and it let's you visualize data and export specific reports. Is this still on the cards?

I'm clearly looking like I'm coming at this from an overly-academic perspective but I've started so I'll finish!

My earlier remarks present 'mobile learning' as something dropped on top of the status quo (they don't change it they just make it run better) and ignore the fact that our societies are all being transformed as mobility and connectedness become near universal. This is producing what some people have called an epistemological revolution - what we know and how we know it are not what they used to be. So what we need to learn and how we need to learn it must change too.

If 'mobile learning' ignores this then it will be merely an expensive irrelevance or a stop-gap remedy for poor infrastructure (or some other perceived problem) and not the transformative force that some of us know to be possible.
Hey Steve

Just to add to your comment, in the context of South Africa. I recently had a very good conversation with the CTO of MxIT and there's definite interest in the development of a chat module for FrontlineSMS. Not only *might* this be of use in an education context, but I can imagine it being relevant to almost every other sector which has found a use for the software.

Just throwing this into the 'mix', so-to-speak. \o/

Good question, and I only just noticed it! Will start thinking.

One of the issues is aligning whatever one does with people's own expectations about what they see as learning, how they do their learning.... clearly this is easier for us all when we're working with learners most like ourselves (in terms of social class, educational background, culture, country ... whatever) and progressively more difficult the greater the distance between us and our learners. Sadly tho' formal learning (as represented/determined by ministries, universities, schools) might be no better aligned to learners than as 'educational' developers. Added to which we often start by using a new technology to solve what we perceive to be a short coming with an existing technology and probably modelled on an existing technology (I live near Ironbridge, the world's 1st iron bridge; it's designed just like a wooden bridge but made out of iron!)
Interesting re. SMS and learning/education: someone just tweeted re. .
UNC Wilmington's "Text Message Applications"
Its a fantastic discussion. It would be great to hear even more voices from FLSMS users - who have access to this Ning, or elsewhere, what kinds of things are useful to learn about?

There are a lot of members of the community who are familiar at developing with FLSMS, doing very creative things with the software such as Steve's example above with the FLSMS forms - what other uses or hacks?
Steve, James, and education enthusiasts --

Great to see you join this discussion! Wherever possible, we'll avoid reinventing the wheel... It makes a lot of sense to adapt PatientView to display learners' profiles (similar to FrontlineSMS:Credit's plans to use the PV architecture for client profiles).

Selecting a learner, drilling down by quiz type or date, exporting records/results to excel or SMS should all be doable. Any interactions with FLSMS:Learn would be searchable, as well.

I'm excited to see this move forward. Hopefully we'll learn from this discussion and walk away with concrete modules to be developed, use cases, and potential pilots. We also need a textable logo for FLSMS:Learn... \?/...?

I like where this is going. We work with several different educational institutions and I work with Moodle all the time so to integrate SMS interaction would be great.

As far as the Polling w/ chart visualization goes, I did a little work with that a few months ago and so I just posted my solution up on my website --

This solution uses FrontLineSMS to send and receive SMS polling answers (and then sends a confirmation of their submission with a quick " # of ## people agree with your answer ". It requires that you have a web server with PHP 4.0 or higher and a MySQL database to keep the info in (If you don't have an Internet based server, you can always load LAMP, WAMP or MAMP locally to do the work). To view the results, the computer must be connected to the Internet as it uses Google Charts to graph the results.

Hope this helps someone out there trying to do this.

And as you get an idea of how you want FrontLineSMS to interact with Moodle, maybe I can help out in that.
Thanks for sharing your app Courtney. I have installed it, and learned alot from looking at and understanding your code.

I'll try my own tweaks soon.

All the best.



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