mobile education

FrontlineSMS:Learn Now Available (in Beta)!

By Cathryn Paine, Operations Manager

The FrontlineSMS:Learn team is excited to announce that our new software is now out in beta and available for download!

FrontlineSMS:Learn is a version of the FrontlineSMS platform that uses SMS- text messages—to provide learning and evaluation support to educators and development programs all over the world.  The FrontlineSMS team, in partnership with the USAID-sponsored SHOPS Project implemented by Abt Associates, Jhpiego, and Marie Stopes International, designed this tool to help local schools, trainers, and educators increase knowledge retention, facilitate long-term changes in behavior, and, ultimately, improve the quality of education and training in the last mile.

This beta launch comes at an exciting time for FrontlineSMS:Learn. There are a number of educators, international institutions, and capacity building initiatives that are ready to begin exploring the potential of mobile engagement.  Our partnership with the SHOPS project—in particular, the work of Pamela Riley and James BonTempo—has resulted in an innovative pilot test and alpha version, and we’re excited to see what innovators will do with the next version of the platform. We are also engaging with the international education community, including the Hewlett Foundation’s education program at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

To download FrontlineSMS:Learn’s newest product, visit our software page. If you need help, you can reach the team via the FrontlineSMS community site. Sign up for an account and join the Education Group to connect with other people interested in using FrontlineSMS, and FrontlineSMS:Learn, in education, training, and learning. If you have a technical support issue, please post your question in a new thread on the community site and our developers will try to help resolve your issue as soon as possible.

Please note, however, that this is a beta FrontlineSMS:Learn product and not a full release, meaning that we’ve done our very best, but the software is not complete and may contain a few bugs.  At this stage, we’re hoping that users will download and test FrontlineSMS:Learn, finding new and interesting ways to improve, break, and help us finalize the software in advance of a complete release.  It is important that users understand that we cannot take responsibility for loss of data or malfunction and we are only able to provide limited user support and resources, at this time. We do appreciate your feedback you have on the software, which we’re hoping you’ll email to along with any other questions or concerns.

Thank you for your interest in FrontlineSMS:Learn. We can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it.


"Mobile Education Requires Smart Ideas, but Not Smart Phones"

FrontlineSMS was recently the focus of an article from IIP Digital, a site for all the latest news from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information. You can find an extract below, and read the full article here. Latin American education leaders who gathered at a TechCamp workshop in Montevideo, Uruguay, late in 2011 learned this and much more from technology experts who demonstrated ways they could use cellphones to extend education to almost anywhere.

TechCamp is part of Civil Society 2.0, an initiative aimed at helping communities around the world gain access to practical and affordable technology to solve local problems. The needs of the communities determine the types of technology presented.

Because mobile access far exceeds Internet access in many developing countries, governments, nongovernmental organizations and communities are eager for effective ways to use cellphones to reach underserved areas on a large scale.

“You have this enormous communications platform, but the question is, what do you do with it, and how is it that people are interpreting it,” Sean McDonald, operations director for FrontineSMS, said. Students, many of whom already use the technology, provide a promising opportunity for determining what works.

“After you’ve taught something, how do you know after the student has gone back to their environment that the student has absorbed the information and it is making an impact?” he asked. “You can create questions and quizzes. The system will automatically grade the quizzes, and then map them to the contact, which you are able to track over time.”

FrontlineSMS is an open-source group messaging software platform that has multiple applications. In Montevideo, McDonald presented a version of the software called FrontlineSMS:Learn that is tailored for use in remote or distributed education settings.

To read the full article, please visit IIP Digital here.