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  • 1. INNOVATIVE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION AND ITS POTENTIAL FOR REDUCING POVERTY IN THE ASIA AND PACIFIC REGION Using Mobile Communications Technology to Support School-based, In-service Teacher TrainingThe Asian Development Bank (ADB) funded aninvestigation of the effective use of information andcommunication technology (ICT) in rural areas ofNepal, Bangladesh, Mongolia, and Samoa. In theseareas, the multidimensional elements of povertydiminish access to and the quality of education for thepoorest people. The study assessed the potential forICT, combined with training, to improve theseeducation factors for people whose educationalopportunities are severely limited.In Bangladesh, the focus was on creating anopportunity for school-based in-service teacher A training participant shows the mobile phone model that wastraining with the support of mobile communications used for the study in Bangladesh. [Photo: RTI Study team]technology. RTI equipped a cluster of 10 schools with What is ‘mobile learning’?mobile telephones that had advanced multimedia andcommunications features. A standard 2-week face-to- Mobile learning is a term used to describe learningface training was converted to 6-weeks distance through portable, handheld, electronic devices,mode, and a pair of teachers from each school generally with wireless communications capabilities.completed the course using print materials, practical It is not limited to mobile phones, since it can alsoschool-level exercises, and communication on a refer to the use of personal digital assistants, handheldregular basis with trainers and teacher trainees in computers, or mobile gaming devices. It impliesother schools. The results show that the distance learning while ‘on the move’—outside of themode can be as effective as face-to-face training, and classroom and outside of the home. Mobile learningit is the strongly preferred mode by training means you can be learning while in your car, or ridingparticipants. the subway, or walking. Beyond just ‘anytime, anywhere’--the slogan coined by online distance Quotes from a training participant’s journal. learning programs--this also implies on demand, and immediate learning, because these devices allow the “Today we had another mobile conference. Our trainer made the lesson very clear to us by giving a user to connect to training provider at the necessary detailed example. Then he asked several questions moment. to enhance our understanding. So the day was very remarkable to me.” In Bangladesh there are approximately 23 mobile subscribers per 100 people, and in one month (June 2007) there were more than 4 million new “After discussing today’s topic with the other teachers, we had some disagreement about how to subscribers. [BTRC, 2007] apply this in the classroom. But the trainer made it clear during the mobile conference.” Understanding how mobile devices can be used to support learning is important to educators because of “Today was Friday [and last day of training period]. the increasing pervasiveness of these tools in society So after finishing household chores, at 10:00 pm I and also because of their ability to create situated studied for some time and discussed some points with the teachers from other schools over mobile learning environments, and facilitate communication phone.” and collaborative learning.
  • 2. 2 Using Video Recording and Playback for more Effective Teaching Preparation in Rural NepalMobile communications as support to distance Lessons learned through the Bangladeshlearning mobile distance learning experienceAlthough many experiences in mobile learning make • When mobile telephones were used to support a well designed, active learning, distance-modeuse of the handheld as the main mode of delivering curriculum, with appropriate printed self-learningcourse content, the particular experience in materials, the trainees demonstrated equivalentBangladesh used mobile phones to support a learning outcomes on pre- and post-tests.distance learning curriculum that involved printed • The most valuable feature of the telephone was the simple voice communication that it providedinstructional materials, peer discussion and between trainees and trainers—and amongdemonstration sessions as the main mode of content trainees, allowing them to solve problems and askdelivery. The purpose of the phones was: questions about course content and its application. • Users of the phones need training to use the more• To carry out mobile conferences (two way call advanced features of the phones effectively. using the loudspeaker to involve several Experience in mobile phone use is not sufficient for the intuitive use of a more sophisticated model. interlocutors on one end) involving the trainees • Communications technology improves the training and their colleagues in the same school, during experience over a traditional print-based distance which questions, problem solving, assessment learning program by enabling trainers to monitor progress regularly and ensure completion of the and feedback would take place. course. This mode of delivery offers more• To carry out conference calls between trainee reassurance for the training provider’s investment. teachers in different schools. • Trainers may become frustrated with this mode of delivery, which doesn’t allow for visual observations,• To share multimedia examples of teaching and the learning is self-directed rather than controlled by the teacher. Therefore, supervision at practice, student activities and audio lectures the school level is still desirable. through MMS (multimedia messaging service). • Involvement of head teachers in the training• To allow trainers to send short text messages program is crucial to provide ongoing support and supervision to the trainees. With head teacher (SMS) with reminders, motivational messages, initiative, the training program can be an opportunity short assessment questions, etc. for whole-school involvement and improvement. • Distance training is an important way to reach more• To allow the trainees to use text messaging or women and disadvantaged groups who are phone calls to ask questions, request materials, otherwise unable or unmotivated to attend face-to- respond to assessment questions, etc. face, residential training away from home. • Cost analysis is still being done, but it is expectedLessons Learned that the cost of distance training, supported through mobile communications technology, will be lessThe experience in Bangladesh, which took place expensive than residential training, when the initialwith 20 trainee teachers in 10 schools during the cost of telephone purchase is not taken into consideration.months of June and July, 2007, provides importantlessons learned for the use of mobile phones tosupport in-service distance learning. In particular, it Distance learning designrevealed a strong preference that trainees have for As noted above, the mobile phones were not theschool-based continuous professional development, primary means for transmitting course content. Arather than being taken from their homes and detailed training curriculum was developed, whichclassrooms for two weeks to attend a face-to-face trainees followed using print-based materials. A keytraining. In addition to the convenience of remaining component of the curriculum involved peer learningin their schools, the school-based training allowed sessions, where trainees would gather with otherthem to immediately practice the concepts from the teachers in the school to discuss training concepts,training, solve problems collaboratively by including and observe each other’s classroom practice. Eachother teachers, the head teacher and headmaster, and week there were four peer review sessions and tworequest feedback from the trainers immediately after. mobile conferences per school.
  • 3. Using Video Recording and Playback for more Effective Teaching Preparation in Rural Nepal 3Additionally, each weekly unit contained the • Ask specific questions to verify lessonfollowing elements and tasks: comprehension (spontaneous quizzing).• Trainee receives an introductory set of discussion • Answer questions that trainees would have been questions and supplemental readings. instructed to compile in their group discussion beforehand, and resolve disagreements that might• Trainee reviews the readings, reflects on come up during group discussion. questions, and plans peer group session. • Answer questions or solve problems that come up• Trainee leads a peer group session during which during reading and content application. discussion, role-play and reflective exercises take place. • Exchanging ideas for overall school improvement.• Unscheduled, informal contact with the trainer takes place using the mobile phone, both to verify Other multimedia can be used to: that activities are being completed and to ask • Send short text reminders to confirm the weekly questions as necessary. schedule, time of conference, and other• A conference call is held among trainee, trainer, administrative matters. and colleagues to discuss the main questions and • Send short text messages to reinforce lesson outcomes of peer group sessions. concepts, such as a daily technique to try in theRecommendations classroom, or a subject-related quiz or game.This experience can be relevant not only to further • Send short audio lectures, where particularlycontinuous professional development in Bangladesh, suitable for the content matter (i.e., languagebut also for other countries that need to retrain large learning, poetry, song, etc.).numbers of teachers, especially in rural areas. • Send still photos to support complicatedThe following recommendations can be considered concepts, for example, mathematical symbols orfor future experiences with mobile phone-supported formulas.distance learning (considering as well the lessons • Ask trainees to send back still photos as exampleslearned outlined in the previous section.) In of a concept explained on the chalkboard, or aparticular, this section is aimed to provide trainers unique teaching aid created locally.and training providers with recommendations foroptimizing the use of the advanced technologies, What could be accomplished in a 10 secondwhere available. video? (Typically the maximum amount of video that can be transferred over a cellular network).Trainers must be the champions of the mobile phone • Introducing yourselfuse, allowing the trainees to focus on the course • Responding to a question concerning the content of the lessoncontent and not the technology. Trainers should • Showing examples of instructional materials madereceive ongoing support for using the advanced locallyfeatures of the phones to send information to • Demonstration of a mathematical formula orcomplement the curriculum, even if the trainees only completion of calculations on the board (see photo)respond with regular voice calls. • Demonstration of classroom seating arrangement, with teacher interacting (see photo)Phone calls can be used to: Combined with a computer, the trainers or training• Gather progress reports from trainees, and discuss coordinators can also easily create and send standard outcomes of peer group discussions. messages to all trainees at once using available• Provide encouragement and motivation to apply software packages. There are also possibilities to techniques from the lessons. publish multimedia content from the phones directly
  • 4. Using Video Recording and Playback for more Effective Teaching Preparation in Rural Nepal 4to the web, where trainers and training coordinators Referencescan view a portfolio of training progress. Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission. Mobile phone subscribers in Bangladesh. Web siteAs technologies evolve and trainers become more accessed October 8, 2007,adept at handling the phones, new uses for the http://www.btrc.gov.bd/mobile_subscribers_may- july2007.htm.features will certainly be discovered. However, it isimportant to recall that the simplest use of the Dieterle, E., & Dede, C. 2006. Straightforward and deepphones is also that which is accessible to most effects of wireless handheld devices for teaching andpeople—simple voice communication. This can be learning in university settings. Paper presented at the 2006 American Educational Research Associationaccomplished at low cost, using either the personal Conference, San Francisco, CA.phones of the trainees, or village public phones,where a trainee does not have their own phone. Naismith, L., Lonsdale, P., Vavloula, G., Sharples, M. 2006. Literature review in mobile technologies and learning. Futurelab series, Report 11. Futurelab: University of Birmingham, Bristol, UK. RTI International. 2007. Learning Communities enabled by Mobile Technology: A Case Study of School-based, In- service Secondary Teacher Training in Rural Bangladesh. Bangladesh Country Report. ADB TA6278-REG. Research Triangle Park. Prepared by RTI International, under ADB TA No. 6278- REG, Contract No: COCS/60-026.A mobile phone captures a teacher trainee delivering For more information, please contacta mathematics lesson in his secondary school classroom. Gordon Cressman, Director, Information and Communication[Photo: RTI Study team] Technologies (ICT) Program. E-mail: gmc@rti.org. Telephone: +1 919.541.6363 Carmen Strigel, ICT and Education Team Leader. E-mail: cstrigel@rti.org RTI International is one of the world’s leading research institutes, dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice. With projects in more than 40 countries and a staff of more than 2,600, RTI offers innovative research and technical solutions to governments and businesses worldwide in the areas of health and pharmaceuticals, education and training, surveys and statistics, advanced technology, democratic governance, economic and social development, energy, and the environment. RTI maintains seven offices in the U.S., six international offices, two international subsidiaries, and project offices around the world. For more information, visit www.rti.org.