A Global Reach: Text-Message Learning

The need for new modes of learning has increased dramatically in the last year. From preschool classes to employee training programs, the landscape of learning is rapidly demanding more accessibility, flexibility, and most of all: engagement. When people mention “learning” what comes to mind is a classroom with students taking notes in real-time. This current platform for learning and development leaves little room for those who lack access to transportation, stationery, or other resources needed to excel in a traditional classroom.

One solution to the lack of learning accessibility is to move physical classrooms online. However, we found that less than 40% of the world has the necessary bandwidth to watch a video-based course. This means that companies that have employees or stakeholders that live in rural areas, where the internet is unreliable, are unable to communicate important learning modules.

So what can we do? 

In order to figure out a solution, we first need to change the current learning framework. Instead of thinking of ways for learners to reach the classroom or what resources they need to learn, we need to start thinking about how to meet learners where they are

Based on our research, over two-thirds of the world’s population has access to SMS text messages. By adapting learning to the resources already available to learners, we can reach them faster and more efficiently. In fact, the first text message course that Arist deployed was for a group of students in Yemen. Since delivering online courses wasn’t an option for the remote areas of the war-torn country, the most effective way to reach learners was through SMS text messaging. 

In the United States alone, 97% of people under 50 years of age own a cell phone. 98% of those cell phone holders can access text messages, and the messages have a 95% open rate. This means that learners are less likely to ignore messages because they’re right there for them to open and read. 

Not only is text message learning accessible, but it’s also effective

Arist isn’t the only company that is realizing how beneficial text message learning is, the rest of the world is catching up as well. Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis researched the effect of text messages on healthcare and education and found unbelievable results. One such research project is the TIPSbyTEXT program by Stanford where weekly text messages are sent to parents of preschoolers to prepare their children for kindergarten. The parents that received these text messages ended up gaining two to three additional months of learning in imperative areas of literacy. 

These two to three additional months are particularly important for guardians who are raising children in impoverished home environments. Research shows that poor children hear about 30 million fewer words than wealthy children, and now we know text message learning can help to close that gap.

The text message tips don’t only make knowledge more physically accessible, it also breaks information down in smaller chunks. This makes milestones easier to achieve which provides continuous support as opposed to programs that try to change behavior during only a short amount of time. 

What does this mean for my company? 

We know that learning doesn’t just happen for children in classrooms, but also within companies in the form of training and reinforcement for employees and managers. For most companies, it’s hard to create a standard of training that reaches all employees and keeps them engaged. Employees spanning different time zones, languages, and motivations have vastly different needs. Here are a few ways you can account for those differences in your training programs: 

  1. Allow a degree of customization in your training programs. By putting some of the responsibility of training in their hands, employees are more likely to engage with content. For example, with Arist, employees can choose a daily time for them to receive their text message courses. That way, the time difference is accounted for and employees have a training program that works with their schedule. 
  2. Keep it on a platform that everyone is familiar with. Different countries have their own go-to communication platforms. By providing training on platforms that are familiar to your employees, they feel more comfortable receiving and interacting with information. For example, an employee in Asia going through an Arist course might choose to receive text messages on WhatsApp while an employee in Europe might choose iMessage. 
  3. Last but not least, make sure you get results. It seems pretty logical, but most employee training programs don’t actually come with ways to track progress. We at Arist recommend you start by asking yourself what change you want to see in your employees after they undergo training, and build from there. 


So, here’s are some takeaways 

  • The demand for new ways to learn has dramatically increased over the past year. From remote work to digitized everything, employee training and reinforcement is changing too.  
  • The only real way to keep up with this is to meet learners where they are. For us, this means placing knowledge in the place familiar to everyone: the phone. 
  • Not only is text message effective because it breaks up knowledge into digestible chunks, but it is also far-reaching and simple to understand. Since over two-thirds of the world’s population has access to SMS, you won’t have to worry about access to wifi. 
  • With text messaging training programs, employees can customize when and where they receive training and you get to track their progress!

So what are you waiting for? You can build courses quickly, launch instantly, and track remote-friendly training in minutes. Or we can build courses for you. Get started here.