Mobiles Enhancing Learning and Support (MELaS)

The Mobiles Enhancing Learning and Support (MELaS) project sees the University of Wolverhampton use text messaging to enhance the student learning experience.
The University was one of the first HEIs to experiment with SMS and other forms of mobile learning and a programme of pilot modules, student surveys, technical trials and staff development has been underway to prepare for large-scale sustained deployment of SMS across the institution.
This project will consolidate and enhance that provision and to provide the sector with a clear pedagogic and business exposition and evaluation of phone-based messaging.

Background and Context

The University of Wolverhampton is currently the British University with the highest proportion of under-represented groups amongst its students (THES figures on 23 Sept 2005). It hosts a HEFCE-funded Centre of Excellence (CETL) specialising in the innovative support for this diverse student population.
Mobile learning includes the delivery and support of learning using mobile phones and in the last five years, these have steadily assumed a place in further and higher education in the USA, the Far East/Pacific Rim and the UK supporting distance learners and part-time students. There has also been a growing understanding of mobile phones’ potential for supporting learning.
The University of Wolverhampton has already undertaken large surveys of student attitudes and reactions to educational and administrative SMS and is aware of many of the organisational and cultural issues of embedding large-scale e-learning as well as the ethical issues of mobile learning. The University has also conducted several pilots with SMS and is aware of the infrastructural and technical issues and the pedagogic and pastoral possibilities.
The project will refine a sustainable institutional SMS strategy to improve retention and progression by extending and enriching the contact and support of students on and off campus.
The strategy will also provide content that complements other media and enables students to exploit ‘dead’ time and short periods off-campus, for example commuting or rest breaks at work