A libertarian inclined blog for teachers and learners of all ages. Comments, emails and links to other educational stuff welcome.

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Next entry: USA education blog favorites
Previous entry: On choice and inequality
Tuesday April 08 2008

Earlier in the week I received a press release from something called TutorByTxt.com, which I actually think is rather interesting.  Here it is:

Look at any group of teenagers and no matter what their background or social group, they all have one thing in common, the mobile phone. The mobile is now a ubiquitous part of any teenagers kit.

TutorByTxt.com is a new service that is using the affinity teenagers have for their mobile phones and turning them into a education tools to help them pass their exams.

The service allows pupils to receive daily texts that are the modern day flash cards for GCSE subjects. They also provide pairs of texts that arrive as a question and answer to test the pupil’s knowledge of the subject.

The schools service allows teachers to choose either our texts or write their own text cue cards or Q and A pairs, then send them to groups of pupils. Because SMS will work on almost all phones, compatibility is not an issue. All texts are delivered after 4pm so as not to disrupt the school day.

The Parent version of the service allows the parent to receive the same text as their children, or they can send the question to the child and have the answer sent to their phone.

Martin Baker the managing director of TutorByTxt.com commented that he was looking at how to integrate the mobile phone into education in a simple and effective way. There is a drive to build ever more powerful applications for phones but sometimes simple works.

It is a measure of how interested I am by this press release that I am willing to reproduce the phrase “Martin Baker the managing director of TutorByTxt.com commented ...”.  This usage suggests a non-existent social event at which this non-existent commenting happened.  No it didn’t.  No he didn’t.  Somebody wrote it, most likely Martin Baker himself, alone, in his office, or maybe his bedroom.  I know, I know, this is how press releases are written by people who know how to write them.  And I despise it, and I invite you to despite is also.  But, I let that pass.

Talking to other parents it was noticeable that most had not been through the same structure of education as their children are now going through, either because of the change to the Key Stage structure and exams or because they attended a school in a different country. A common comment was that they were getting left behind by their child’s homework. I was looking for a solution that could allow them to be more involved. By using the txt service parents can get more involved with their child’s education.

The service is has launched with GCSE texts in Maths and Science.

Future developments in the pipeline are texts in different languages for parents and pupils new to the UK.

I have no idea whether or how this works, or if it will catch on.  But it’s an interesting line of thinking.  Plus I’m prejudiced in favour of mentioning it because it’s not from the USA.

However, I suspect that the educational impact of texting will be far more subtle than just what you get when you stick “education” on top of it.  I mean, regular telephones have already changed the world, but their “educational impact” is rather hard to track.  Well, let’s see if these guys send out any more press releases.  I suspect that not a lot more will be heard about this, but I’d enjoy being wrong.