The “Trigger” Experience: Text Messaging as an Aide Memoire to Alert Students in Mobile Usage of Teaching and Learning Resources

The “Trigger” Experience: Text Messaging as an Aide Memoire to Alert Students in Mobile Usage of Teaching and Learning Resources

Joan Richardson (RMIT University, Australia) and John Lenarcic (RMIT University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0011-9.ch812
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This case study chapter will outline the results of a 2006 pilot test into the use of Short Message Service (SMS) to augment the provision of student administrative services currently available through a university website. The pilot conducted utilised an SMS Prototype Tool Trigger that enabled dynamic information transfer between staff and students. Trigger facilitated live update reminders that assisted students to schedule their time and better organise themselves. Specifically, SMS technology was used to deliver physical class locations, availability and web addresses of iPod resources, important events, alerts for multimedia, examination schedules, and, assessment feedback by ‘pushing’ information to students. Trigger also provided students with pull access to study schedules and requirements. The aim of the test was to evaluate student response to the use of Trigger to improve the learning environment. The case study will identify student responses to the 2006 pilot and describe a current project that has extended the number of students participating in the study.
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Background: Mobile Communication

Mobile phone penetration of the Australian population is high and expected to remain that way. In 2006, 950 million mobile phones were expected to be sold, a figure that far exceeded the 234 million PC’s. (Arvind & Hicks, 2006). The number of mobile phones owned has increased from 8.1 million in 1999-2000 to 19.8 million in 2008 (The Age, 6/04/2008). This recent explosion in SMS use for the purpose of communication is global in nature, although not in all countries. However, the 20.5 billion messages sent in the UK in 2003, (Faulkner & Fintan, 2005) substantiate SMS as the ‘killer’ application of mobile phones. Australian Mobile Market statistics indicate that Australians sent over eight billion SMS messages in the 2005/6 financial year, an average of at least 300 messages for each subscriber. Figure 1 shows the exponential increase in the volume of text messages that occurred in Australia from 2005/2006.

Figure 1.

Text messages, Australia mobile market statistics (2008)


The growth in general usage has exceeded expectations primarily due to the low cost of messages and acceptance in the youth culture as a means of scheduling social events. Reminders and the sense of control provided by the asynchronous nature of the communication mode enable users to reflect before sending a reply at their leisure. SMS enable generation Y to receive and send private messages (Markett & Sanchez & Weber & Tangney, 2006). Steve Boom, Yahoo’s senior vice president for broadband and mobile, views the mobile internet today as entering an era where the PC-based Internet was in ’96 or 97 (The New York Times, 9/01/2007). This strong sales market for technology has made mobile phone ownership ubiquitous amongst university students. A survey conducted by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) showed that 95% of students owned mobile phones, 73% owned MP3 players or iPods, 23% had their own games console and 15% had a PDA (Bachfischer & Lawrence & Litchfield &Dyson & Raban, 2008).

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