• Dave Foord
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Using Jaiku to send text messages to learners for free

Text messaging has been used by educational establishments for quite a few years now. In the early days most people had a 1 way system set up, where the tutor could send texts to the learners, to notify them of things like room changes or reminders to turn up. Then some systems allowed for 2 way communication which opened up all sorts of learning opportunities, but either way there is a cost attached. Most services charge between 5p and 12p per text, which doesn’t sound a lot, but when sending a message to say 30 students once a week, this quickly adds up. I personally used to manage the text messaging system for 1 team in 1 college, and we were spending an average of about £6 – £7 per day, and looking at the history of messages being spent, many were either unneccessary, or really essential (and the problem with that is some learners don’t have phones want to give out their mobile number).

So back to Jaiku – Jaiku is a hybrid of micro-blogging and social networking, a bit like FaceBook but without the zombies, snowballs, various types of wall and all the other things I don’t see the point of. Jaiku is much purer – it is primarily text based, with each person created an ‘account’ and then connecting to other people. You post to the site giving an update of what you are doing, and everyone who is connected to you sees that. But the beauty of Jaiku is that it can be used in conjunction with a mobile phone. So I can send a message to Jaiku from my phone (this costs me 21p so I don’t do it very often – other people on different data plans this is less). But more interestingly I can set Jaiku up to send any messages that my contacts post, to my phone – and this is completely free.

There are then 2 ways to play this:-

1) A tutor could create a Jaiku account to support a group of learners, the learners can then create Jaiku accounts, set themselves up to receive text message alerts. They then connect to the tutor so when he/she posts a message to Jaiku (from their computer) they get the message sent to their phone – with no cost to either party.

2) A tutor could have 1 Jaiku account, and then set up something called channels – with 1 channel for each group of learners. With channels, what the tutor has to do is identify which channel they want to send a message to, so the right learners get the right message.

The thing that I like about this model, is that it puts learner in complete control of what they recieve. They choose whether to create a Jaiku account, they choose whether to connect to the tutor or not, they choose whether to get messages sent to their phone or not. When I have suggested this model at training sessions, some staff are concerned that if some learners don’t do all the steps they won’t get the messages and this is a serious problem – but in reality a learner has always had the right to not provide a mobile phone number, so wouldn’t have got messages anyway. This also makes staff think about the way they use these technologies. we need to move on from reminding learners that its a Monday and therefore they need to get to College.

And then there are the people saying that having invested so heavily into a VLE that we should be using some function in that  (just because its there), well with Jaiku you can get an RSS feed, which means if you use for example Moodle you can add an RSS block that takes that feed – this way people not accessing the messages from their phone will still be able to access them.

And when you start using Jaiku, and realising that you can add in RSS feeds from other sources (Flickr, YouTube, Veotag, Gabcast…..) you can create a very rich learning environment.

Oh and did I mention this is all free.


8 Responses

  1. One thing that Jaiku can also do it “hide” your postings from the public, so that only your “contacts” (or learners) can see what you are posting.

    So though Jaiku is an open service, you can hide (protect) the learner.

    I have a feeling that this may break the RSS feed – not tried to hide my Jaikus so don’t know if it does.

    The other thing that Jaiku can enable you to do is have a (flash based) badge on your website (or VLE) and so can be read in that fashion. This is how I use it on our VLE and I get a few comments now and again from people who read it.

    Good blog post.

  2. Thanks for adding the bit, about making things private, I keep forgetting that which as you say when used educational I think will be the preferred model, although if you look at how people use facebook, and the information that is transmitted publicly through that, privacy doesn’t seem a major concern to today’s teenagers.

  3. Hi Guys , Great discussion. There may be a trade-off between private broadcasts and rss feeds (This is because authenticated feeds are so problematic and have never taken off). It would be great to have both.

    @davefoord Some students may not be too concerned with privacy but educational institutions tend to be.
    There are big problems with feeds you need to consider before using them. RSS in Moodle could really expose you for instance: http://eam0.jaiku.com/presence/44674034

    We have to consider would I be happy with everything that is said in class being broadcast? If the answer is yes then you are fine i.e you have everyones permission.

    Great posting you could add a bit about how useful Jaiku is for discussions, maybe even (ahem) linking to the Jaiku thread where this idea started 😉

    – Eamon

  4. Oops gave the wrong link there for RSS and Moodle privacy issues. I meant to paste: http://www.relearn.ie/2008/02/29/2-moodle-security-vulnerabilities/

    – E

  5. Interesting comment about the vulnerability of the RSS feed into Moodle – me being an average PE teacher, hadn’t considered thinking about any problems there.

  6. […] of the updates you make will be available as a web feed as David Foorde points out. What this means is that you say it once but your message goes out in different formats such as SMS, […]

  7. […] Jaiku is also a social site used in learning.Jaiku can be used in conjunction with a mobile phone.A tutor could create a Jaiku account to support a group of learners.They connect to the tutor so when he/she posts a message to Jaiku(from their computer)they get the message sent to their phone. […]

  8. […] help a learner keep in touch with his/her network, in terms of finding jobs and global awareness. Also with Jaiku,a tutor can get in touch with his/her students or create channels for different groups of students […]

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