TextTheMob is a social networking tool used to engage the audience and to collect feedback in an easy and entertaining manner. Polls or message boards can be projected on a large screen. Audience feedback sent by texting via a mobile phone is instantly visible on the screen.
There are 3 versions all of which permit approval of responses before display and free Short Message Service with accompanying advertisments. A maximum of 3 questions and 50 responses per question is allowed to every free account. However, the Plus at $5/month and the Pro at $15/month do not have any advertisements on the screen and allows 10 questions with 200 responses and 100 questions with 500 responses respectively. The disadvantage is that the tool is only available in the USA. Besides, the audience need to be mobile phone user to participate in the poll.
The site's goals are:
*To create polls using TextTheMob
*To create a message board and project the polls
*To view responses instantly on the message board
Learning goals would be the responsibility of the instructor.
Target Student Population:
Graduate students, faculty, and professionals can use the resources to gather data but participants might need to pay text messaging fees.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
The fee for the product varies depending on usage. Registration and the creation of a login are necessary to use the product. Cellphones with a text messaging option are needed to participant in the polls. Text messaging charges apply to use the service.
The ability to send text messages is necessary.
Type of Material:
It is a web-based tool used for communication in a classroom or at gatherings such as conferences where feedback in real time is sought from the audience.
It can be used to create surveys, polls, and message boards for feedback during performances or for research.
The site can be used to engage students in a classroom or attendees at a conference, allowing them to send comments, make suggestions, ask questions and give feedback in real time using their mobile phones without making themselves visible to others.
a computer with internet connection
Evaluation and Observation
TextTheMob is a tool for sending and receiving short messages during a conference, workshop or lesson. The underlying concept is engagement with the audience to check understanding of the message in real time and provide feedback instantly. It is not part of the curriculum and is not taught in a formal environment but can be learnt informally. The free version is easy to learn and to use. Besides, in a classroom based 1-hour lecture, 3 questions with 50 students should suffice.The Plus and Pro versions provide the same service albeit wth a wider audience and more questions which may be beneficial in a commercial environment.
Allowing mobile/sell phones in a classroom could be disruptive especially with youths. The teacher may need to be prescriptve and allow the phones to be switched on at a certain time to respond to the polls.
Not everyone may own a mobile/cell phone, nor remember to carry it around so the reults of the poll could be unreliable.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
For the teachers/trainers the learning objective is to learn to use TexttheMob to set up a poll to evaluate a teaching session in real time. This is beneficial to them as the lesson or the training experience would still be fresh to the participants and therefore could provide authentic, valid feedback. This helps the teachers/trainers to identify strengths and weaknesses to help them improve the next session taking into consideration, the context of delivery. Moreover, Text the mob can be used as a class quiz tool as well, for example, short quizzes to practice language, grammar etc.
Text the mob can readily be integrated into the curriculum and pedagogy of any discipline and therefore, it is inclusive and can be used to assess learning. The basic service is free and allows 3 questions and can be used with 50 participants making it affordable for classroom formative purposes.
The purpose of this tool is to involve participants in the session and appears to work better with youths who own mobile technology with texting facilities - generally tactile learners.
The responses can be moderated by the teacher or the trainer to avoid issues of unprofessionalism.
TexttheMob service is currently available in the USA only and is limited to polls; therefore, learning assignments for independent learning would be difficult to design.
TexttheMob cannot on its own improve learners abilities to learn but faculty could use the responses to improve their teaching to enhance learning.
Good Classroom management is vital.
Some of the demonstration videos were blurred.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Registration is required for trialling the tool. Free registration can be completed by visiting the "Register for free" tab, one of three tabs available at the top of the home page. Then just login via the login tab. The third tab is for plans and pricing. TextTheMob is designed to be both flexible and cost-effective. The basic service is free with a variety of affordable upgrade packages, to fit the needs and budgets of users and organizations of all types and sizes.
The site uses vivid colors for its graphs and titles. Instructions and videos are provided. There is also contact information and a FAQ section where concerns can be posted.
The menu on the right hand side of the screen has hyperlinks to
1. Launch the poll to test the already created poll
2. Launch message board to view what it looks like with comments and
questions from the audience
3. resources to help the user start using the tool: How to, FAQs and Contact us.
Clicking on the How to link leads to a video recording of how to create the first poll from writing the question to providing a list of correct and incorrect responses, picking results display, uploading a logo and saving the poll. It then demonstrates how the poll is launched full screen in a pop up window for Windows Operating System only. The creator then has the opportunity to test out the poll by responding via SMS or a mobile web which is an advantage as pre-prepared polls can be checked for accessibility, accuracy and functionality.
The Features section provides information about what Text the Mob can do.
Presentation is simple and easy to follow and anyone will be able to use the site without major issues
TextTheMob came into the market in 2008 and is only available in the USA; thus, there are only 2 FAQs though the CONTACT US link allows questions to be asked by filling a form. It also enables providing feedback about system status but limited users means limited discovery of system issues. All the different services need to be tested before it can be deemed a reliable tool for learning and instruction purposes.
Familiarity with copying and pasting URLs is needed. The user must be able to navigate through various links. Participants need to know how to use text messaging services and be willing to pay the fee for their messages.
Other Issues and Comments:
The basic service of Text the mob is a simple tool good for formative assessment: 3 questions with a choice of 3-5 responses will suffice to evaluate learning after a new topic has been introduced but ads appearing on the screen can be annoying and distracting for the learners. A trial period for the Plus and Pro versions prior to paying the $5 and $15 respectively will be helpful for educators.
This is a Beta version which means it will still be some time before a well established functioning tool will be available.