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If the short message service (SMS) is a popular method of communication among the younger generation, why not use it for learning? The SMS has now become an indispensable communication medium, providing quick and cost-effective access to individuals anywhere and anytime. Consequently, the SMS offers an asynchronous form of communication with students, thus fostering a sense of connectivity between the lecturer and student and facilitating a supportive learning environment. Recognising the unique opportunity offered by the mobile technology, a group of researchers from the School of Distance Education, led by Professor Rozhan M. Idrus, has embarked on a research to investigate the potential of mobile technology in bridging the education divide among students and promoting life-long learning. Mobile technology is expected to complement other electronic learning (e-learning) resources. It is particularly beneﬁcial to students in vocation as it will integrate learning in their everyday life within the limited time that they have hence, making learning less burdensome. The idea for the project was inspired by the use of the mobile phone by the USM’s School of Distance Education to alert and remind lecturers of videoconferencing-based classes for distance learners. The school has an in-house platform that sends an SMS to lecturers to remind them of their classes a day before, and again, a few hours before class begins. It was realised that the same technique can be used to reach distance learners and deliver content to them anytime, anywhere. It was initiated by Professor Rozhan and Dr. Issham Ismail from the School of Distance Education in the 2007/2008 academic session. Pilot studies conducted on the use of the SMS to deliver learning materials to distance learning students can be summarised as follows: short message can contain a complete deﬁnition of a certain phenomenon. As such, the subject lends itself very well to this SMS method. The course selected for the pilot study was the second year Physics optics course (JIF 212) taught in the 2007/2008 session to 17 students. The topic selected was “Dispersion”, a topic that - according to the ﬂow of the contents of the course the students should normally be attending to in their self-study schedule. One of the main thrusts of this project is to incorporate pacing by constructing the text message according to the sequence of topics in the learning materials. The students have been instructed to copy by hand each message into their note book to instil the habit of writing down facts and deﬁnitions as well as tips sent to them. More serious deliberations will be conducted via the forum in the electronic portal, the event being initiated via the SMS. This technique would lead to an optimisation of the forum and participation in discussions on relevant topics. Acceptance of Mobile Learning via SMS in Distance Education, USM The study investigated whether mobile learning via the SMS was favourably accepted by the students enrolled in the distance learning academic programme in USM. The respondents consisted of 105 distance learning students, of 31 males and 74 females, ranging in age from 20 to above 50. The study explored the impact of perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use and usability of the system. Results indicated that the usability of the system contributed to the effectiveness of the SMS in assisting students with their study. Prior to the study, none of the participants had any experience in using the SMS in learning. The students volunteered to participate in the SMS-learning project in the second semester of the 2008/2009 academic session. The subjects that were included in this study were Financial Principles for second year students, Management and International Business for third year students as well as second year Mechanics and Optical Physics. In the Economics
M-Learning in Distance Education Physics Courses A Physics course was selected in a pilot study due to its highly structured and logic-based nature. Students of this course tend to study by making notes and breaking the content down into “chewable” pieces. This is akin to a short message. One
this project will allow them access to education via mobile phones anywhere and anytime. In addition. The project can provide educational opportunities and equal access to education to all students including full-time learners and working adults. 8. the research will also look into the possibility of using advances in mobile technology and its integration with digital network systems in mapping environmental issues. 4. pp. both in the public and private sectors. learners and all related institutions. 166 . Weekly segments of content-rich SMSes are loaded onto the system for a scheduled delivery over the period of the study. Texting forward Efforts to extend mobile learning into a wider combination of various disciplines involving information technology (IT). podcasts and videos to handheld devices. The project aims to utilise the easiest and the cheapest technology. The work gained recognition when the paper entitled “Development of SMS Mobile Technology for MLearning for Distance Learners”. the subjects involved were second year Money & Banking and third year Quantitative Economy. this project also contributes towards the growing recognition of the need to move towards lifelong learning as it focuses on formal. However. pp. This project recognises mobile learning as a unique element of education reform that will enhance our current educational environment. The study will be published in Issham Ismail. it can be deployed as “standalone” or fully integrated with an organisation’s learning management system. In addition. The mobile learning platform enables organisations or institutions to securely deliver courses. published in the Malaysian Journal of Educational Technology.MILESTONE discipline. surveys. the SMS. In addition. was chosen as a recipient of the the Asia Paciﬁc Mobile Learning & Edutainment Advisory Panel (APACMLEAP) Mobile Learning Initiatives Recognition 2009. No. Rozhan Mohammed Idrus. In the pilot stage. The role of APACMLEAP is to bring together all agencies. informal and non-formal learning by individuals through mobilebased learning programmes. 33-41.” International Journal of Interactive Mobile Technologies (iJIM). waste rangers will be recruited among schoolchildren to record indiscriminate waste disposal occurrences and communicate using SMSes from their handphones to the m-technology enhanced digital network. at the initial stage to disseminate information and knowledge to students. Vol. The study was conducted for three months from February 2009 to April 2009. To university students. this concept is also in tandem with USM’s APEX status agenda of raising the bar in technology-enhanced learning WINNER of the Asia Paciﬁc Mobile Learning & Edutainment Advisory Panel (APACMLEAP) Mobile Learning Initiatives Recognition 2009 for Universiti Sains Malaysia. inform and educate themselves. education technology as well as communication is now on the way. The students were permitted to use the SMS free of charge. the project subscribed to the Nanozone Web Control Panel (WCP) utilising the SMS notiﬁcation system for a one-way message delivery to the students. environmental issues to secondary schools science courses. groups and communities in the way the live. the results indicated that low interaction with lecturers could be a downside. Bridging the education divide The project is very much in line with the aspirations of the 9th Malaysia Plan which places an emphasis on human capital development to ensure the sustainable success of the country. so that they can develop the ﬁeld of new media technology through inventions and innovations. This process involved the development of the IT system. Students received learning materials via text messages once a day. through new forms of media and technology to enhance the learning experience. the study shows that students highly endorse this mode of communication and interaction in learning. effective and useful to help them study. The research will also contribute towards the mobile learning applications as it will involve different areas and fields such as Islamic knowledge. “Acceptance on Mobile Learning via SMS: A Rasch Model Analysis. The participants involved in this project had volunteered and agreed to use their own mobile phones. thereby enabling it to grow more holistically. and in the most efﬁcient manner as the SMS is the most affordable medium of communication in Malaysia. This approach has the potential to impact individuals. education. encompassing the related subjects in the semester. In all. An inhouse interactive system is currently being developed for a multi-application construct in the scalable mobile learning mode. In this part of the study. Respondents in the study agreed that SMSlearning is easy. 10-16. the research team believes that the use of the SMS as an innovative learning tool to share knowledge will pave way for greater collaborative ventures among teachers. Siti Sarah Mohd Johari (2010). linguistics. the proﬁciency in language to broadcast the knowledge and information to students and to monitor how well the students interact and adopt the technology in their routine communication apart from conventional learning. Nevertheless. Furthermore. Vol. assessments. special education. The platform enables full progress tracking and reporting on all contents.2. No.1. human resource or enterprise resource planning system and is available online or ofﬂine for maximum accessibility as long as the users have access to mobile phones.
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