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: 889

Replies to This Discussion

One surprise we had here in Nigeria was to learn that for many purposes data is cheaper than SMS.

Wilfred - SMS is not appropriate for accessing content. But it is very useful for coordinating activities. That's where I see the potential for integration.
Yishay, thanks for sharing these designs! It looks like many of us are envisioning similar applications of FrontlineSMS to education & training. And that's a good thing :)

Just yesterday I found myself thinking more about FLSMS/Moodle integration. In particular, I was thinking about assessment. And I was wondering: would it be better to link FLSMS to an special assessment module in Moodle? That way administration of content could occur in one place - Moodle, as you point out - & FLSMS would serve as the SMS gateway (which it does so well!).

The only challenge there is that there may be cases where Moodle would want to trigger actions in FLSMS (e.g. send out new assessment sets/items) & I don't currently know of a way to do something like that. From my minimal experimentation w/External Commands, actions are usually trigger by FLSMS & then handed off to other applications (which means an incoming SMS of some sort would be required to launch a new assessment). But maybe some of the FLSMS coders around here could help us out w/that!
Josh, James, et al., Looking forward to helping, and seeing what happens in this regard. I met some great folks at MacArthur's Digital Media and Learning at UCSD last week and who were exploring how SMS/MMS could be used to aid ed/learning goals.
Awesome! Exactly what we'll need. Look forward to playing with it :) BTW, could probably help with beta testing when it's ready...
how do we move forward?
I don't mind helping with the quiz bit. For my sins, I am one of the founders of the African Virtual School ( and we have a bank of maths questions, some of which could be used for testin
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.


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