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

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.
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! :)
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...
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.
(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

If I understand your concept well - I would love to see something like this.


I'm managing projects in Washington DC - am eager to figure out how to advise folks in country on using Frontline for language training and other training settings, but haven't gotten my fingers in the Frontline SMS pie and am looking for a short orientation/training on SMS functionality...


Any thoughts? 



I think they're all brilliant. I'm especially interested in the top 3. I'm working on becoming more of a techy, but for now I'm driven by the potential technology has to support education. If you message was an attempt to gauge interest, please consider me hooked. What have your learnings been thus far?

Manfred McKenzie (ICT4Ed)



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