Unleashing the Potential of Mobile Learning through SMS Text for Open and Distance Learners

Unleashing the Potential of Mobile Learning through SMS Text for Open and Distance Learners

Zoraini Wati Abas (Open University, Malaysia), Tina Lim (Open University, Malaysia) and Ruzita Ramli (Open University, Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-511-7.ch009


Malaysia has a population of about 28 million people but there are, incredibly, more than 30 million mobile phone subscriptions. Sixth in the world in terms of SMS (Short Message Service) volume, Malaysians appear to be addictive SMS texters. With over 98 percent of its students having mobile phones and 82 percent of the students ready for learning through mobile phones, Open University Malaysia initiated a project that first experimented with podcasts and SMS texts later. This chapter describes how the institution conceptualized, planned, and created a mobile learning environment using SMS to enhance its current blended learning model in general, and in particular, one of its courses with over 1,000 students enrolled. The chapter also describes the categories used for formulating the SMS content, use of Twitter and Facebook to support the SMS sent and discusses the feedback received on the initiative as well as the issues and challenges.
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If one were to look at data on mobile phone subscriptions world-wide, the landscape could be described as spiky with the tallest peaks located in Taiwan, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Italy and Iceland (International Telecommunication Union as cited in Nationmaster.com (2010). In an article published online entitled “The World is Spiky”, Richard Florida the guru of the Creative Class pointed out that when the world is portrayed through three-dimensional graphs for aspects such as population, light emissions, number of patents and scientific citation, it appears spiky with sharp, tall peaks, hills and valleys. As for mobile cellular subscriptions by region, there has been a phenomenal increase for all regions across the world. In 2008, for example, mobile penetration in Europe reached 118 percent. This was followed by the Commonwealth of Independent States (113%), Americas (82%), Arab States (63%), Asia Pacific (46%) and Africa (32%) as compared to the world’s mobile penetration (for 2008) average rate of 60 percent (International Communication Union, 2010).

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