Create a free SMS auto-reply learning tool

10 01 2008

I’ve previously blogged about StudyTXT, a system deployed at a number of New Zealand educational institutions (to whom it is available for free), which allows students to send an SMS and receive on-demand learning and support information on their mobile phones.

It’s a terrific innovation which has plenty of potential in academic settings. Some educators have used StudyTXT to provide brief revision “flash cards” or notes for their students on-demand; but I can also see the possibility for this kind of system to be used to play educational games or mobile quizzes.

But what about the rest of us outside of New Zealand? It’s possible for us to set up customised SMS-response systems by working with a telecommunications services provider, but this can be a pricey or time-consuming exercise.

Which is why I’m delighted to be able to share this tool with you: BaselsReply (v2.0). It’s a small application that runs on an ordinary Windows Mobile smartphone and basically turns it into a message server, with the advantage of being, itself, mobile – you can just take your message server with you and modify it whenever (or wherever) you want to!

You configure your messages by running it in “server” mode, and specifying “commands” and corresponding “replies” in the software. An incoming message prefixed with “br command” (where command is a recognised command will automatically be replied to with the appropriate response.

Use Case Studies

  1. Jane’s teacher uses an SMS reply system to provide a weekly summary of ten key terms or concepts learned during that week. Each week, Jane sends an SMS with the message “br vocab” to her teacher’s mobile. She immediately gets her weekly list of terms and concepts to aid her revision and vocabulary uptake.

    Because Jane is able to get this important information on her mobile, she can take it with her anywhere and can even reference it when she meets her classmates around the campus or if she meets her class friends off-campus for study or social time. Although each message is quite short, the cumulative effect over time is to build up a much longer list of vocabulary and concepts that Jane can both revise and reference, anywhere and any time, and she can even forward the messages to any classmates who missed a previous summary.

    Jane’s teacher Mary doesn’t need to send each individual request for the weekly list. Once she sets up the automated message on her smartphone, she can forget about it for the rest of the week while the 80 students taking her subject request the summary or forward it to each other – which ever they prefer. Mary also enjoys the convenience of being able to update the weekly summary anywhere and any time that’s convenient to her – all she has to do is pull out her smartphone and she has all the tools she needs.

  2. Ethan is an science teacher who has set up an SMS game for his students. He begins the game by asking them a question, for example: “In scientific classification, to what Family does the cat belong?” The answer is one word, “Felidae”.

    Dylan is studying Ethan’s science course. He doesn’t know the answer right away, but looks it up online and finds the correct answer. He SMSes “br Felidae” to Ethan’s mobile phone, and gets the message “Correct! Where on a cat are the carpal whiskers located?” Dylan wants to find out right away, because his teacher Ethan has offered a cool prize to the first student to complete all of the quiz questions – an autographed copy of Ethan’s memoirs! (Or, y’know, maybe something cooler)…Ethan can set up a series of questions such that each correct answer provides the next question in the quiz. The same idea could be used to generate treasure hunts or physical and mobile learning games.

Download your very own free copy of BaselsReply v2.0 and try out your own SMS auto-reply learning activities with your students! Here are the details:

basels replyBaselsReply v2.0 (152kB, Freeware)
Size: 152 KB
Date: January 7, 2008 (Updated)
Type: Freeware
• Windows Mobile 5.0
.NET CF v2.0 (install this first!)
Author: baselsw
Directions: First install the .NET CF v.2.0 on your Windows Mobile 5 (or better) device; then download and install the BaselsReply .CAB file, available here.

(via Pocket Picks)





7 responses

11 01 2008

Great examples Len! I like Jane’s scenario and the opportunity for small bites of info that accumulate into learning over time – nice!

Can we use this for our game-based workshops at the PD Day you reckon? 🙂

11 01 2008
Fear Factor » Blog Archive » Create a free SMS auto-reply learning tool

[…] Original post by cogdog […]

16 01 2008
17 01 2008
7 03 2008

You say you can ‘see the possibility for this kind of system to be used to play educational games or mobile quizzes’

There’s already a service called mobilestudy that lets teachers create quizzes for students to download onto their mobile phones. Its at

23 04 2008

This tool is really great 🙂 Many thanks.

30 01 2009

How can I still run the message answering service but also close the application so it is not always open? The minutes that I go back from the console screen (which states all the messages that i am receiving with result) the sms command does not work.

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