The Power Of Text-Based Learning

The Power Of Text-Based Learning
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Summary: This article explores the concept of text-based learning as a solution for engaging low-tech learners who have limited access to computers or face challenges due to low reading levels. It highlights the benefits of text-based learning, such as just-in-time learning, accessibility, and bite-sized content.

Bridging The Gap For Low-Tech Learners

The digital age has transformed the way we access information and learn. However, only some have easy access to computers or possess high-tech skills. In my experience of teaching low-income parents how to prepare their high school-age students for college, I encountered various challenges that prevented them from engaging with online learning platforms. When we asked them why, we had mixed responses. Some parents were intimidated; they had never taken an online course before. Others didn't believe you could learn that way, while still others didn't have access to a computer, or believed trying to log on to their phone was too much work.

This led me to explore the potential of text-based learning as a solution for engaging low-tech learners. This article will delve into text-based learning, its benefits, and how to design an effective text-based learning campaign.

Understanding Text-Based Learning

Text-based learning, also known as text-based instruction (TBI), is an approach that utilizes written texts, usually delivered through text messages, to provide educational content and facilitate learning. During the COVID-19 pandemic, text-based learning gained popularity [1]. Organizations such as Amazon, Pinterest, DuPont, and the state of California have embraced text-based learning as an essential component of their learning delivery methods.

For example, during disaster relief efforts, the government harnessed text-based learning to efficiently train individuals. By sending instructional text messages, they provided critical information about safety protocols, disaster response procedures, and key resources. This approach ensured that people could access vital training and guidance even in areas with limited internet connectivity or during the chaos of a disaster.

This form of learning adapts to the current behavior of consuming information through platforms like YouTube or TikTok. By providing easily accessible, bite-sized content, it meets the needs of individuals with limited computer access or who face challenges due to low reading levels.

Challenges Faced By Low-Tech And Less Educated Learners

Engaging low-tech and less educated learners poses unique challenges that need to be addressed when designing effective learning initiatives:

Limited Access To Technology

Many individuals in low-income communities rely on connecting to the internet through a smartphone. In households where they make $25,000 or less, a smartphone is likely to be their only internet source [2].

Low Reading Levels

A significant portion of the population struggles with low reading levels, making engaging with complex written content difficult. 54% of Americans have a reading level of below six grade.

Lack Of Technological Literacy

Some learners may have never taken an online course before, leading to feelings of intimidation or disbelief in the effectiveness of online learning.

Opportunities For Text-Based Learning

Text-based learning offers a range of benefits that make it an ideal solution for engaging low-tech and less educated adults:

  • Just-in-time learning
    Learners can access and consume content whenever it suits them, allowing flexibility and meeting their immediate learning needs.
  • Accessibility
    Text-based learning can reach individuals across various demographics, regardless of their access to technology or educational background.
  • Bite-sized learning
    By breaking down content into shorter messages, text-based learning accommodates individuals with limited attention spans and makes learning more manageable.
  • Mimicking current behavior
    Text-based learning aligns with how we consume information today, emulating the behavior of watching and learning from YouTube videos or TikTok.
  • No logging into different platforms
    Since most people already use their phones for learning, text-based learning eliminates the need to navigate different platforms and login processes.

Designing A Text-Based Learning Campaign

To effectively engage low-tech learners through text-based learning, consider following these guidelines:

1. Choose Mobile-Friendly Content

Opt for content that can be easily consumed on a mobile phone, such as short videos or concise text.

2. Create Implementation Opportunities

Provide practical examples and instructions that learners can implement in their everyday lives. For instance, sending short customer service tips to a sales associate, or safety videos to factory workers.

3. Establish A Consistent Schedule

Designate specific times to send messages, ensuring that learners receive regular doses of learning support.

4. Personalized Communication

Tailor messages to the learners' needs and interests, increasing engagement and relevance.


Text-based learning presents an inclusive and accessible approach to education, bridging the gap for low-tech and less educated adults. By harnessing the widespread use of mobile phones and delivering bite-sized content directly to learners' devices, it offers a way to engage and empower individuals who face barriers to traditional online learning platforms. Embrace the power of text-based learning to provide just-in-time, easily accessible education for all, regardless of their technical proficiency or reading level. Together, let's pave the way for a more inclusive and equitable learning experience.


[1] Text-based learning: emerging from the pandemic as a must-have

[2] Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2018

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