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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 8/17/2005 6:44:06 AM EDT
R u redy 4 uni's txt msj classes?


JIM MCBETH

IF. . . U. . . do no ndrstnd dis sntns u nd 2 lern txt.lingo. If you do comprehend, you are obviously already in possession of a full understanding of the mysteries of text-speak and need read no further.

For the rest of us, perhaps those of a more mature persuasion, there is Glasgow's Strathclyde University and that institution's attempt to rescue us from the darkness of Earth B.T. - the world Before Text.

Mobile phone users of a certain age are queuing up to join university seminars that unlock the world of texting.

Such has been the demand that the courses are now a featured part of the university's remit.

Lasting for two hours and costing a mere £3, Strathclyde University's Lifelong Learning Centre is already oversubscribed for the classes, which begin on 1 September.

In an alliance with Orange, the mobile phone provider, expert instructors will take students through the "art", teaching them how to write and send a message on their phones.

In separate two-hour seminars they may also learn other skills, such as filing names and telephone numbers into a mobile phone address book.

Students can then progress to more advanced courses and unravel the secrets of picture messaging, e-mailing, data transfer and the mystery of WAP.

Previously, the courses had only been offered to those over 50, but inquiries from a younger age profile proved that many people now aged 30 to 40 are trapped on the "cusp" of a technology revolution.

Lesley Hart, the director of the university's lifelong learning centre, said: "It may seem to many of us, those who are more mature, that the average 10-year-old has the hand-eye co-ordination of a fighter pilot, such is the speed with which they can send and receive messages.

"Technology is changing so rapidly that practically everyone now has a mobile phone and they want to know how to use it, apart from just making a call.

"There is the feeling that a certain age group may be caught between what went before and what is going on now, such is the rapid growth of technology.

"Our courses provide an opportunity to learn the new technology with like-minded people, without having the feeling that they are somehow behind the times."

The number of mobile phones on the market has now reached astonishing levels, according to Ms Hart, and each new model comes with its own "intricacies".

Text messaging technology was introduced about a decade ago and it may seem surprising that there is such a demand for courses in a world where it has become second nature.

An estimated 70 per cent of mobile phone users currently send texts.

In the month of June, 2.6 billion messages were sent across the UK.

The Scottish Qualifications Authority even uses the technology to send examination results to island pupils in Orkney, Shetland, Lewis and Skye.

Texting is commonplace among primary school pupils, but it is their parents and grandparents who need help.

The experts from Orange are running the Strathclyde course free of charge, but learners pay the £3 to the university as an administration fee.

The university and Orange claim the courses have many advantages, not least of which is the opening of new lines of communication between the generations.

Ms Hart said: "They tend to be most popular with people who, for example, want to be able to communicate with their grandchildren by text."

However, for the time being, the seminars will concentrate on the use of standard English.

Ms Hart added: "The kids, of course, have their own text speech with the use of acronyms and shortened versions.

"That remains a deep secret place, although with a second look and the use of phonetic spelling you can usually work it out.

"But it should get interesting when our students move on to data processing, e-mail and WAP.

"Some older people may still believe that it makes more sense to phone than to text, but texting does have its place.

"First, it is cheaper and the message can, for example, be sent in the middle of the night. It can be picked up at the other person's convenience."
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