‘U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says schools and colleges should deliver course content to the cell phones that students use to talk and text every day.’ eSchool News, Jul 6

Carter, D. (2009) Cell phones used to deliver course content  eSchool News, Jul 6

This article describes some of the applications being made in a couple of US higher education institutions (Ball State University’s nursing program, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System).


  1. Is the technology ready yet, for full course delivery?
  2. Will smart phones be the answer to the interface issue (27% of students have one at Ball State), or will this be too expensive a solution for all students?


  1. I think that the technology is ready, but the infrastructure is not. This quote from the article: “lured students by offering the first course via cell phone free of charge if the student switched providers and bought the SmartBank smart phone” sums up exactly why the approach is currently impossible.

    Online content makes sense because you can access it from any laptop (except for maybe stuff in those big Java CMS systems) but each smartphone platform is very different from others, making it very expensive to support all, or as is the norm, very inconvenient for students by forcing the student to get the required phone. I think any device that you spend “14 hours a day” (awful statistic by the way) on should be one of your own choosing.

    The one alternative is an open content delivery system that universities partner on. They could write an application together for each platform. The application would take the equivalent of an RSS feed for each university/program/course and push it to the student’s phone.

    Also, there is the fact that this content has to be optional (just like laptops) until penetration is universal. The requirement of 2+ year contracts for data on smartphones makes it even more important in this case than in the case of laptops (although I can see the potential for very dodgy deals between universities and companies like Rogers).


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