Short Message Service

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1 Short Message Service

Jean Nasser, Memorial University of Newfoundland

2 Definitions and background

Short Message Service (SMS), also called text messaging, refers to a short electronic text message, that is sent or received over a wireless network via any cellular devices such as iPhone or Blackberry and is less than 160 characters (Pakter and Chen, 2013). SMS or text messaging refer to the ability to send and receive short text message between cellular devices (Jones, 2009). Kert (2011) described SMS as an international messaging system that has been used since 1992. SMS was included in the original design stage of the European global system for mobile communication (GSM), as an add-on with low priority to grow the attraction of GSM (Reid, F. J. & Reid, D. J., 2010).

Markett, Sanchez, Weber and Tangney (2006) refer to SMS as an application used among students to quickly send and receive text based messages at any time. Lee, Chung and Kim (2013) describe SMS texting as one of the most known mobile phone application among cell phone users, as 70% of cell phone users use short message service. Lee, Chung and Kim found that many universities and schools across the US started to implement SMS systems to send alerts or messages in the form of text to their students, staff, faculties and parents.

3 Affordances

Short Message Service (SMS) is a user-friendly and an inexpensive function of mobile devices that could be a capable medium for learning and teaching (Hayati, Jalilifar, Mashhadi, 2011). It can be used by students and teachers to initiate interactivity in the classroom (Markett, Sanchez, Weber & Tangney, 2006). Goh (2011) suggested that SMS can offer effective learning support, specifically in a health education environment. Chuang and Tsao (2013) described SMS as a cost-effective learning method and found that nursing and other health care students can use SMS as a tool to gather information and improve their medication knowledge.

Learners can send and receive SMS in real time anytime of the day and that can lengthen the learning space and give more flexibility to the learning process beyond the classroom hours (Lim, Fadzil & Mansor, 2011). Lim, Fadzil and Mansor found that 95% of students involved in their study agreed that text messaging allowed them to learn anytime and anywhere and they expressed their desire to see mobile learning implemented with other courses. Broadcasting SMS messages is effective in educational contexts just as in social contexts (Librero, Ramos, Ranga, Triñona, & Lambert, 2007). Hayati, Jalilifar and Mashhadi (2011) found that SMS is commonly used to send and receive learning and information materials, however, the main part of the SMS function has been used for administrative instead of instructional purposes.

The use of SMS increases the potential of parental involvement in children’s education as it offers the benefit of two-way communication between teachers and parents (Pakter and Chen, 2013). Pakter and Chen (2013) observed how SMS can save the time that teachers used to spend calling homes, as well as, more parents are now contacting teachers by replying to SMS messages.

Beyond the social mobile communication, SMS is been integrated into formal educational settings specifically higher education (HE) as a collaboration tool for mobile learning (Jones, Edwards & Reid, 2009). Distance education institutions have the opportunity to enhance their services by using SMS as another choice of communication with their students beyond online tutorials, presentation and websites (Lunsford, 2010). Lunsford (2010) stressed that this method of mobile communication could be an added value and useful for both students and institutions. Librero, Ramos, Ranga, Triñona and Lambert (2007) found that SMS methods should give the learners opportunity for reflection, as learners will have the chance to take their time to reply to questions or issues raised with the instructor.

4 Constraints

Students’ personal devices including cell phones have become natural for learning purposes; however challenges arise over allowing social technology such as SMS that may take away student attention in the classroom (Markett, Sanchez, Weber & Tangney, 2006). Student involvement and responsiveness is improved when SMS messages are short, customized and focused, however the effective use of SMS is challenged by issues of technical and pedagogical support (Fotheringham & Alder, 2012). Hayati, Jalilifar and Mashhadi (2011) found that SMS could be a reliable method for teaching and learning English idioms, however learners must test and become familiar with this mobile technology in order to see the benefits overtime.

SMS has revised the way people connect, where students for example, are more concerned about getting the messages across by reinventing the language to accommodate the limitations of 160 characters and thus becoming much less worried about the spelling, grammar and punctuation issues that arise when students use the SMS language in their academic writing (Shafie, Azida & Osman, 2010).

Even though SMS can be seen as a candidate method for teaching and learning, a language class should not be entirely delivered over mobile technology because it may minimize the role of the educator who should be the real provider of instructions and motivation in class (Hayati, Jalilifar & Mashhadi, 2011). Students in a study by Markett, Sanchez, Weber and Tangney (2006) reported that it takes too long to type SMS message on a mobile phone and this distraction from what was being said could lead them to miss the point of a discussion. Librero, Ramos, Ranga, Triñona and Lambert (2007) observed the lack of public awareness about the role of SMS in education and the need to promote it as an effective tool in teaching and learning, not just a tool for personal communication and entertainment.

SMS messaging can be an add-on method of providing flexibility to learners, who can be connected anytime-anywhere, however, this flexibility may lead to extensive use of the mobile technology and cause anytime-anywhere headaches to learners who may become confused (Motiwalla, 2007). Jones, Edwards and Reid (2009) found SMS to be more effective and reliable in communicating with learners, however, learners were often concerned about the cost of SMS and its limitation to 160 characters. SMS's limitation to 160 characters is forcing learners to prioritize the information to be sent in messages promoting higher-order thinking and that may require different teaching and learning methods (Librero, Ramos, Ranga, Triñona & Lambert, 2007).

5 Links

Short Message Service / SMS Tutorial

Short Message Service – Wiki Article

Mobile Learning Series: Text Messaging in Teaching

SMS Marketing – Text Messaging Statistics [Infographic]

How to Use SMS Text Message Marketing in Your Business

6 Works Cited

Chuang, Y. & Tsao C. (2013). Enhancing nursing students’ medication knowledge: the effect of learning materials delivered by short message service. Computers & Education, 61, 168-175.

Fotheringham, J. & Alder, E. (2012). Getting the message: supporting students’ transition from higher national to degree level study and the role of mobile technologies. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(3), 264-274.

Goh, T.-T. (2011). Exploring gender differences in SMS-based mobile library search system adoption. Educational Technology & Society, 14 (4), 192–206.

Hayati, A., Jalilifar, A. & Mashhadi, A. (2011). Using short message service (SMS) to teach English idioms to EFL students. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(1), 66-81. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2011.01260.x

Jones, G., Edwards, G. & Reid, A. (2009). How can mobile SMS communication support and enhance a first year undergraduate learning environment?. ALT-J Research in Learning Technology, 17(3), 201-218.

Kert, S. (2011). The use of SMS support in programming education. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(2), 268-273.

Lee, D., Chung, J. Y. & Kim, H. (2013). Text me when it becomes dangerous: Exploring the determinants of college students’ adoption of mobile-based text alerts short message service. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(3), 563-569.

Librero, F., Ramos, A., Ranga, A. I., Triñona, J., & Lambert, D. (2007). Uses of the cell phone for education in the Philippines and Mongolia. Distance Education, 28(2), 231-244. doi:10.1080/01587910701439266

Lim, T., Fadzil, M., & Mansor, N. (2011). Mobile learning via SMS at open university Malaysia: equitable, effective, and sustainable. International Review of Research In Open & Distance Learning, 12(2), 122-137.

Lunsford, J. (2010). Using handheld technologies for student support: a model. Journal of the Research Center for Educational Technology (RCET), 6(1), 55-69.

Markett, C., Sanchez, I. A., Weber, S. & Tangney, B. (2006). Using short message service to encourage interactivity in the classroom. Computers & Education, 46(3), 280-293.

Motiwalla, L. F. (2007). Mobile learning: a framework and evaluation. Computers and Education, 49(3), 581-596.

Pakter, A. & Chen L.-L. (2013). The daily text: increasing parental involvement in education with mobile text messaging. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 41(4), 353-367.

Reid, F. J. & Reid, D. J. (2010). The expressive and conversational affordances of mobile messaging. Behaviour & Information Technology, 29(1), 3-22. doi:10.1080/01449290701497079

Shafie, L., Azida, N., & Osman, N. (2010). SMS language and college writing: the languages of the College texters. International Journal of Emerging Technologies In Learning, 5(1), 26-31. doi:10.3991/ijet.v5i1.1010