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So, S. (2009). The development of a SMS-based teaching and learning system. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 2(1), 113-124.

The Development of a SMS-based
Teaching and Learning System
Simon So
Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong
Abstract: The short message service (SMS) technology is one of the most stable mobile technologies around. Most of our tertiary students carry mobile phones with SMS facilities and can be used for teaching and learning. There are many projects of using SMS technologies in education as outlined in the literature review, but many publications do not provide the possible underlying technologies to implement such the teaching and learning systems. In this paper, the development of a SMS-based teaching and learning system is presented. The underlying technology of using GSM modems to build the SMS-based teaching and learning system is revealed. The system is capable of supporting administrative, teaching and learning activities via the SMS technology. Examples of various activities such as brainstorming, voting, and assessment activities supported by the system are illustrated.

Keywords: Short Message Services (SMS), e-Learning / m-Learning, GPRS/GSM

1. Introduction
In a key-note speech of mLearn 2007,
Charlie Schick of Nokia pointed out that the
majority of people who own mobile phones
only has the basic features (Schick, 2007). We
cannot assume learners all carry multimediarich mobile phones, PDAs, UMPCs, netbooks, or notebooks. What we can assume is that most
learners such as tertiary students in developing
and developed countries only carry basic mobile
phones for voice and SMS communication.
Therefore, when we consider ubiquitous access
(other than Web-based access) to teaching and
learning for our students, we must employ
basic and trusted technologies such as SMS to
connect with our students. This is the guiding
principle of this research.
Volume 2, No. 1,

October, 2009

In this paper, the development of a
SMS-based teaching and learning system is
presented. The literature review of various SMS
projects for teaching and learning is given in
Section 2. Section 3 reveals the technological
considerations of employing the SMS
technology to build the system. Teaching and
learning considerations are outlined in Section
4. For completeness, the limitations of the
system are described in Section 5. Conclusive
remarks are provided in Section 6.
2. Literature Review
There has been an increasing interest in
academic institutions using mobile devices to
support teaching and learning. Different mobile
113

Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange
devices can be used in mobile learning. The
most ubiquitous and stable mobile technologies
namely Short Message Service (SMS)
texting (Traxler, 2005) on cellular phones has
great potential in education. For the last 10
years, many SMS projects for teaching and
learning were reported in the literature. In this
section, some of the projects are highlighted.
These projects are being categorized into (a)
communication and administrative support, and
(b) teaching and learning support as described
below.
2.1. Communication and Administrative
Support
2.1.1. Administrative communication in
higher education. Laura Naismith (2007) from
the University of Birmingham reported that an
e-mail to text message service called StudyLink
is employed to support administrative
communication in higher education. Text
messaging can be “effectively integrated
into both the student and staff experience”
(p. 155). Administrative staff members were
able to integrate the service into their current
means of communicating with students while
students were able to effectively receive and
act on text messages. Message types include
notices of changes and cancellations (e.g., class
cancellations), reminders to submit and collect
assignments, notices of relevant lectures/...
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