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?

Tags: education, training

Views: 895

Replies to This Discussion

Hi all,

I am new to FrontlineSMS and this group but found the conversations very inspiring. 

Within the context of FrontlineSMS, I think the focus is not on mobile learning but a subset of it which could be labeled as 'SMS-based learning'. This sub topic is more focusssed and could concentrate on managing the constraints associated with using SMS within the context of supervision and support in a continuing learning enviroment. 

For example, many new graduate front line workers (e.g. health workers) in the Pacific Islands region are thrown into isolated communities without ongoing support and supervision from their instructors.  I am interested in exploring how SMS-based learning and FrontlineSMS could fulfill these very important functions and to minimise the isolation and increase continuing learning while the workers are on their own with very little support in their new environment.

Hi Pak,


Its great to hear about your interest in 'SMS-based learning'. It is certainly a growing area. The use case you suggest - using FrontlineSMS to help support front line workers - is a fantastic example of how SMS can help to support learning. I am currently researching those using FrontlineSMS for learning-related purposes, and this is food for thought!


Could I ask, have you used FrontlineSMS at all in your own work? It would be great to share more ideas with you on the potential of SMS-based learning. Feel free to write back here or email me at if you'd like.


Thanks again for your interest!


All the Best,


Hi Florence,

 Sorry for this late reply, I am in Tonga attending a regional conference.

 I have not used FrontlineSMS yet but have used SMS-based learning in my own teaching via Twitter or Facebook.  FrontlineSMS provides a mechanism that will replace the use of Twitter or Facebook.

The projects I mentioned are in its planning stage.  Do you know of others who have used FrontlineSMS within the context of supporting front line workers? 





Hi Pak,

Thanks for getting back to me. I hope you are enjoying the conference in Tonga. Its great to hear more about your planned use of FrontlineSMS to support learning. There have been a few previous forum posts about connecting FrontlineSMS to Twitter which you may find helpful, for example here and a video here, too.

One example of connecting frontline health workers using FrontlineSMS is the work by Medic Mobile (previously FrontlineSMS:Medic) in Malawi, which you can read more about here. This is not based so much on learning though, and we are certainly looking for more of these kind of use cases so I will let you know if I come across any other relevant examples. Do keep in touch as this project and your own use of FrontlineSMS progresses, and feel free to ask us if you have further questions.

Its great to be in touch! \o/



Pak, this is almost EXACTLY what we did in our USAID-funded Mobiles for Quality Improvement (m4QI) project in Uganda under which we have developed the first version of the FrontlineSMS:Learn plugin. We are awaiting the results of the final review of our project report and are working w/Alex (the lead FrontlineSMS developer) on packaging the software for distribution/installation. Both of these will be available very soon!

Hi James,

This looks very promising and I am happy to be involve in the beta testing phase.  If that phase has already been completed, I like to be an early adopter.





I'm no natural laggard, but wish I stumbled upon this comment earlier-- perhaps the timing was fortuitous as I'm now in the final 6 months of finishing a MSc in Communication for Development . I've been in touch via Facebook and must be following the right sources if I've stumbled upon your recommendations on frontlinesms too. Thanks for the useful (and comprehensive comment.

James, re. your short-term list:

One of the more popular apps/services last summer at ISTE (The International Society for Technology in Education) in DC was PollEverywhere, a simple text message voting application. They're no longer free, alas, but I mention this company because they were providing free access to a simple tool that could be used for assessment, polls, charts, feedback/communications, etc. So despite fancy/costly whiteboards and T1's in some US schools, teachers (and students) were excited about basic tools (SMS) that helped achieve simple learning goals. There is promise here.

Of course, there are hurdles: cost(s), incentive, learning/teaching ethos, language, gender, culture, etc. I am sure Ken, John Traxler, Steve Vosloo, MILLEE/Mat Kam,, and many, many others, have good insights on those myriad complexities. A discussion that begins to investigate these topics would be immensely valuable.

Let me know how I can help.

Richard, the polling w/charts item on the list was directly inspired by my own personal experience with PollEverywhere :) It has been very popular with people & can be a deceptively powerful tool for formative assessment. Glad you agree. Please feel free to add other thoughts as they occur to you!

And I'm hoping we can coax some of the folks you mentioned over here to share some ideas, too...
Hi James, I love this vision also. I have done some m-learning and reminder type mini projects before with disadvantaged young people in Australia. I'd be happy to contribute any way I can. I was also thinking.

FrontlineSMS:Mentors would be a useful module for those who are small business owners or entreprenours to be able to join a group and access mentoring from successful business people worldwide.

I'm just about to launch a bully reporting tool using Frontline SMS. FrontlineSMS:Bullyproof

Check it out here:


P.S Might be worth contacting for a chat.
Love the Bullyproof application :) Looking forward to hearing about impact...
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!



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