mLearning Project for #eduMOOC – Try it ! call (323) 686-6375

Here’s my project for #eduMOOC week 4 on mLearning.  I’d love to hear your feedback.  Please post comments below.  Thanks!

Background on F2F Class:

I’m teaching an ESL course this summer with adult learners in a low-income neighborhood of Los Angeles.  After assessing that students have very limited internet access at home and via their cell phones, I also noted that most students have a simple cell phone (or feature phone). This is an ongoing pattern I’ve noticed and talked about before: .  So I’m bringing the internet to them, through mobile devices they already have.

The mLearning Project

I’ve created mLearning blended activities students can access anytime, anywhere.  No need for expensive smart phones or data plans.  All you need is your simple cell phone.  These ESL activities are based on activities students have done in class.  If you’d like to check it out just call (323) 686-6375.

mLearning Activities:

Using original content, I posted a dialog up on the whiteboard in class, which students copied in their note books. I then recorded this conversation with another person (in this case my lovely wife). Using VOIP I programmed the content (recorded conversation + quiz) so it can be accessed via a local telephone number.  If students complete a mini-quiz (4 questions) they receive a time stamped SMS text message. The message encourages them to come to class to collect their prize.

The Prize/Rewards System:

The system I currently have set up is one of points. Students get points for a range of things (attendance, traditional paper-based homework, participation, and now these cellphone quizzes). There will be a raffle the last week of the course and the students with the most points will have the biggest chance of winning.  The prizes include an 8GB thumbdrive and dictionaries.  With the SMS text messages, in addition to the points, I’m planning to give stickers showing students have passed the level which they can put on their notebook or where ever they like.

Issues of Attrition:

  • Unlike K-12 attendance is not mandatory.  Unlike university, the ESL classes are free.  Also, many students come to class after a long shift at a local factory or sweatshop.
  • By having the raffle the last week I am hoping to encourage class attendance and reduce attrition which tends to occur particularly during the last week of a course.
  • I am also encouraging students to read the dialog they copied down in class as they listen to the conversations, so they can further connect the written words with the pronunciation.  Granted, they listen to a computerized voice, which is not always perfect, nevertheless this also presents another opportunity for students to navigate a phone tree in English in a non-threatening environment.  Since it’s not a ‘real-life’ situation, students don’t have to worry about making a serious mistake.

Analyzing the data:

Online, I can track who called the activities, how much time they spent and which quizzes they successfully completed.

What’s next:

For Week 2 of the ESL course, I’m writing dialogs that are based on feedback from students who I surveyed on situations they would like to be able to better converse in English. Week 2’s dialogs include asking for directions to the hospital and ordering fish tacos at a local restaurant.


I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this project. Please let me know what you think about the User Interface and I’m really interested in developing a reward system together with the students, and I’m interested in any ideas you might have.

Many thanks!

Sean C. Abajian

graduate student, California State University Northridge (CSUN); teacher adviser & ESL instructor;

Los Angeles, CA


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6 responses to “mLearning Project for #eduMOOC – Try it ! call (323) 686-6375

  1. Looks great at first read; I need to take time to really try it later. I really like how you are thinking about what really works tech-wise for your students. Have you seen this: ? She’s the gal who was knighted by the French government for her teaching. I wonder to what extent her ideas could be adapted to plain ole texting. (I’m one of the thousands of educators on eduMOOC with you ;))

  2. Hi suzgupta, Thanks for the feedback! I’ll check out the slideshare presentation! I’d love to work on some more SMS texting based projects too…Maybe I’ll have time this summer!
    Cheers, Sean

  3. I got a perfect score for week 1, where’s my treat? lol 🙂

    Twitter is an interesting idea, however I am not sure it will work with the population. Even though twitter was built around SMS messages, the cost factor in the US (both send and receive being charged to the cell phone user, as opposed to being charged for only sending – the european norm) might not be good for people who’ve got plain ol’ feature phones with no formal SMS plan (and $20/month might be a bit much to ask from some populations of learners!)

    That said, I really enjoyed this mLearning usage. What sort of back end statistics do you get?

    • Hi Apostolos! Thanks for checking it out =) I owe you a beer at the next conference! In my experience, you’re right about Twitter. It requires (more traditional) internet access and on top of that an email address…which many of my students don’t have…too many barriers to entry. That’s why I’m excited about this project. In a previous project there were abut 2.5 hours spent outside of class by over 1/3 of the class in the 1st 5 days. Here’s a video about that experience:
      Thanks again!! Cheers, Sean

  4. Your research looks interesting. I am doing research as well and am interested in studying how EFL/ESL educators use PLNs. I am specifically looking for 7-10 EFL/ESL educators from the same institution, school, etc. who might be willing to participate. If you are interested in knowing more, please contact me via Twitter or Wikieducator (

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