One powerful smartphone per teacher, or a combination of voice/SMS phones and smartphones for teachers and students, have the potential to actually achieve the unfulfilled technology saturation promise of One Laptop Per Child.
But before we get lost in the possibilities of mobile phone usage in the classroom, lets look at the practicalities – programs that are already using existing mobile phone technology to reach educational objectives inside and out of the traditional classroom. In this month’s Educational Technology Debate, we’ll look at several mEducation initiatives where mobile phones are reaching and teaching students across the developing world:
. One interesting use of mobile phones in education in developing countries can be found in Bangladesh, where the BBC World Service Trust and BBC Learning English are implementing the Janala project, an initiative that is providing English language lessons to citizens via their mobile phones as part of the wider English in Action program […]
Locally known as Elimu kwa Teknolojia (Education Through Technology), the Bridgeit program involves an innovative process of disseminating educational programming directly to the classroom via a mobile phone.
Bridgeit’s primary objectives demonstrate a holistic approach to the educational challenges faced by the regions in which it is deployed. By equipping teachers with relevant materials and thus, improving the learning experience for students, Bridgeit is successfully utilizing technology as a means to an end and not an end itself.
Projet d’Alphabetisation a Base Cellulaire, or ABC, uses multimedia phones that have been programmed with a digital curriculum in the local languages of Hausa and Zarma, and incorporates a practical literacy component tied to obtaining market information via text message.
The Project ABC literacy curriculum is taught by local facilitators trained by the Ministry of Education in Niger, and has two components. The first part of the program, developed by the Ministry, involves basic functional literacy. The second part of the program, taught by CRS team members with the aid of a multimedia phone and digital curriculum, is being studied by CRS in the Project ABC pilot. Learners also use more basic phones, commonly available, to practice literacy and numeracy skills via SMS.
There is a growing awareness around the impact that a lack of books has on literacy levels in South Africa. Books are scarce and prohibitively expensive for most South Africans. Stats show that 51% of households in South Africa do not own a single leisure book, while an elite 6% of households own 40 books or more. Only 7% of schools have functioning libraries.
What South Africa’s teens do have access to are cellphones, with stats indicating that 90% of urban youth have their own cellphone. Steve Vosloo launched the Yoza program to capitalize on South Africa’s “book-poor, mobile phone-rich” dynamic and see if teenagers in South Africa would read stories on their cell phones.
For 35 years, Jhpiego has empowered front-line health workers by designing and implementing effective, low-cost, hands-on solutions to strengthen the delivery of health care services for women and their families. SMS4Learning and FrontlineSMS:Learn are two new mobile ICT-powered additions to our toolkit that will allow us to continue and improve that work.