thoughts on questions raised at SMS meeting

• What are the alternatives to SMS? (JFH/AR)

In the sense of SMS being short text messages delivered to a handheld device then there are few current of future alternatives. From the perspective of the end user, then the delivery mechanism may change for some people, i.e., the growth of wi-fi connected spaces. However, in terms of coverage, and ease of use then SMS via the phone network is likely to be viable for a number of years.

• Are departments running projects involving SMS which are not being administered through the University’s systems? (ALL)


• How far SMS could be seen as an academic learning tool, rather than just a method for prompting (AR)

It can be viewed that there is significant potential as long as it is appropriately embedded within learning activities. For instance,

1. An e-assessment (formative) system. Where students are texted a multiple choice question, true/false, or open question which they needed to respond to (via SMS). This is then used to feed into the next face to face lecture or seminar. This method is superior to many other approaches because it requires little from the student (don’t need to find a computer). The results are collated electronically.

2. Asking questions in large lectures. Students can SMS questions during a lecture which the lecture can then review in the last 5 minutes of the lecture. They may select to answer a few then, or move these to a discussion board for future discussion and input from other students.

3. A reflective tool. For instance, an eportfolio system. Students can be on placement or other non-campus sites and recorded a short view or seed an idea which they can revisit later.

• The potential and limitations of SMS in an academic environment; what is the appropriate direction for its development? (AR/GE)

Firstly there are a few technical issues that need to be addressed in terms of;
• how it can be used within other e-learning tools (Moodle, Confluence, LMF etc.,) The focus on the technical aspect is that the it has to be made very easy to use for staff who will be managing the bulk emails. Also we need to ensure that the integration is two way, i.e., students can text back to discussion boards.
• people will need to be able to choose how to receive this information. For instance, some students might prefer to receive the text message as an email, or an rss infeed to their home page.

Then interms of the appropriate direction then at the moment it would be suggested that we should support the use of SMS within a “let a thousand flowers bloom” model. Therefore, after the guidance documentation has been released we might be able to coordinate a number of SMS initiatives. This approach does require that these need to be evaluated. We should also appreciate that this is a continuum for the individual. For instance, an academic might use it as an admin tool today, but then think about it’s application in for other uses in the future.

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