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#SWaNI – MOtIvATE – Mobile messaging and Community Education

March 21, 2011 by Robin Englebright   

I’ve been a very late adopter of mobile tech. Being a big burly fellow I was never really fussed with the need for lightweight kit, in fact when I started travelling the UK as an NLN ILT mentor, I used to lug around an enormous projector (Philips B-Sure) about 1foot square, it was so big it didn’t fit in train overhead luggage racks. In fact it had a fold out handle like a suitcase, I just looked at the specs, and it weighed 3.7KG, plus all the leads and stuff…


Anyway, one of the first times I realised the use of mobile technologies was when I was attending an event at London Met, and Dave Sugden [] was presenting. He used bulk SMS the day before the event to remind me and all the other delegates when it was, and as I emerged from the tube station on the morning of the event I got a text telling me I needed to turn left, and giving me directions to the the event.
The technology was poor, a Motorola T-180 handset (which my wife still uses, much to the amusement of my kids), BUT that text arriving in a timely manner, giving me the information I needed, made me feel engaged, and cared for in a really completely disproportionate way.
The MOtIvATE – (Mobile messaging and Community Education) project at Coleg Gwent is hoping to capitalise on that powerful capacity to make people feel valued. The project will look at how retention of learners can be improved by using using SMS for feedback, advice and guidance. 
The project is working with disenfranchised learner groups studying in the community,16 to18 year olds and 19+ who have not succeeded at school, and are reluctant to re-engage with formal education via College.  The stats show that those who finish the course are successful, but that retention is an issue. Labour force statistics reveal that the areas served range from some of the most affluent to most deprived areas in Wales, which also presents a number of challenges in relation to access to technology.

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