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The Case for Using SMS Technologies to Support Distance Education Students in South Africa: Conversations

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Perspectives in Education Volume 23, Number 4, ISSN 0258-2236


The rate of adoption of mobile technologies in Africa's developing countries is amongst the highest in the world and by 2005 there may be almost 100 billion mobile users in Africa (Keegan, 2002; Brown, 2005). This is just one of the reasons why servicing distance students in this country through m-learning support tools should enjoy consideration. At the Unit for Distance Education at the University of Pretoria most of our students are from remote rural areas in South Africa where there is very little infrastructure for access, yet most have mobile phones. We started using Short Message Services (SMSs) for basic administrative support during 2002 in three existing teacher training programmes for inservice teachers offered by this unit. Recently we have begun preliminary research on the use of SMSs for academic learning support purposes. We are currently running a second exploratory pilot project in one of our modules where four asynchronous academic SMS learning support tools have been introduced. The purpose of this research is to explore how adult learners, registered at UP's Unit for Distance Education, experience the academic short message service as a learning support tool, for a specific module. The first pilot ran from October 2004 and ended in April 2005 and the second runs from April 2005 to October 2005. This article aims to describe our experiences with SMS technologies in the hope that we can contribute towards delivering quality m-learning interventions to student populations previously excluded from the e-learning environment.


Viljoen, J.M., Du Preez, C. & Cook, A. (2005). The Case for Using SMS Technologies to Support Distance Education Students in South Africa: Conversations. Perspectives in Education, 23(4), 115-122. Retrieved November 20, 2019 from .

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