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: 932

Replies to This Discussion

If this is to be used by teachers, they will want to select / add their own quiz questions. Also, the participants at the workshop raised the issue of using complex semi-random timing schemes to reduce cheating.
I suggest a FL-SMS plugin which allows the user to select questions for a quiz, and schedule them. The questions can be loaded from a simple text file or an on-line repository. The plugin sends the questions and grades the responses.
Hey, everyone! We've done some great brainstorming on functionality for FrontlineSMS:Learn. I'd also like to ask for your help in identifying the challenges & barriers to providing quality education and training that such a piece of software could help address. I've started a new discussion topic - Why build FrontlineSMS:Learn? - and would love to get your input. Click through & let me know what you think :)
I'm not sure if this is the right place, but have a look at this link. For those who can't be bothered to click, it's using a smart phone (iphones) to access moodle. Seeing that others have noted that data is cheaper than SMS, are we barking up the wrong tree with FrontLine SMS:Learn ?
Wilfred -

An iPhone moodle gateway is a great idea. btw - they also support Android.
direct link here:
the making-of story here:

But I think FL-SMS:Learn would be complementing such effort, rather than competing with them. You wouldn't deliver full courses or collect essays by SMS.
However, the scenarios developed by the educators we worked with in Nigeria present many tasks where FL-SMS would be the ideal tool:
Noted, Yishay. I agree that it would complement. I could see scenario one being very handy for exam revision (both Maths/English) as the senior secondary exams in Nigeria have multiple choice components in the first part.
Wilfred, you are right - mobile Internet is cheaper than SMS when you consider the amount of data that can be transmitted for the same cost. But I don't think we're "barking up the wrong tree."

Most folks that will use Learn will not be able to afford a smartphone and will not have data coverage. I see SMS-based tools like this being appropriate for the next few years until device costs come down and mobile Internet coverage expands significantly.

And as Yishay notes, Learn would not seek to implement over SMS the same kind of functionality available using Internet connectivity on a smartphone - that would be crazy! The idea is to seek ways that this simple & ubiquitous technology can effectively supplement, support & strengthen education and training. It may very well require considering new ways of doing things - but I'm up for that challenge! :)
Great idea! Moodle has an open source mobile LMS ( that I would love to try, but am a novice at programing (and am struggling installing FLSMS). Keep us in the loop if you move in this direction.


Moodle *is* an LMS. mle is a mobile LMS, available as a standalone or as a moodle plugin. There's also momo.
hi Yishai,
thanks for the links to our project.
I agree with you that complementary action would give the most benefit.

In addition to the Moodle/smartphone application that started from iPhone but is opening up for more functionalities, there is one big disadvantage at this moment: it demands a lot of data transfer even to go to the fora themselves, so it would not be ideal in certain circumstances.

The Nigerian options seem to have a broader reach, and that does appeal to me. But like James noted, getting to a ubiquitous solution would give a real and long-term solution, especially if it is flexible enough to adapt to the changes that are still to follow.
hi James,
hi all,

It might be a good idea to try and get a mobile learning for health project going. That way - if some of us join up - it might give the extra funds to deliver a ubiquitous solution?

Call for Grand Challenge:
Inge, it's like you read our minds! We are in fact planning to submit a proposal for a Grand Challenges grant. Things are still in the formative stages, but I'm sure there will be more information about it to come...
(could all the discussions be hosted on a website that frontline own so there is no risk of the content being deleted? We would like to set this up with you and can be done for less than 1k if you have the funds. Or can you do this cheaper?

Can we create free open source education and learning software & spaces with you? and are prototypes we would like to work with you on to create free public services for everyone. This could link in nicely with your great FRONTLINE:learn software. As the space is moving and growing so fast I suggest the FRONTLINE genii (is that plural for genius?:) set up the FRONTLINE:learn asap now using the existing frontline software as a working prototype to prove the concept and help draw attention and therefore get funding. May I also present the business structure (cooperative but where any surplus funds generated in the future are invested into new innovative solutions to human problems... so creating institutional innovation:). Can FRONTLINE:learnt/medic/sms be run as not for profit cooperatives that do this?

Also would it be possible to work with you to make a re skinned
version of existing software so we can help the public to solve other
social issues (Ideally using that business
structure)? Maybe working with someone like or which
is closing so maybe this is something I could help you take on so
everyone can share local knowledge? Also can
share video's and create with your

Do get funds so you can pay people like Brendan O'keefe (and many more hopefully including me:) to create incredibly efficient and cheap public services for multiple countries across the globe. The question is why are funders not desperate to fund projects like this?! What is wrong with the funding process? Can any public service or charity funding organisations step in and help? Maybe @nesta_uk or @4ip (I have been trying to get funding for do good projects but maybe someone here will have more success than me?)

Maybe the Nokia foundation, the android foundation, the Vodafone foundation, they Symbian foundation, or others can contact the FRONTline team and give them funds if they or someone they know reads this?

Ed @whymandesign


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