This is a question that comes up a lot… Why a particular technology focus?
The simple answer is there has been a “fortuitous convergence” Mobile devices have saturated society and they are—based on our research—increasingly relevant to education. We are rapidly discovering—as I’m sure all of the people in this room are as well—that mobile phones can enrich and expand learning. Increasingly, it looks as if mobile devices may have an important role to play both in the formal setting of school as well as the informal learning environments outside of school.Essentially, we are rapidly recognizing that the devices tucked in our pockets and bags, carry an impressive (although mostly unrealized) potential to benefit learners living and working in a wide range of contexts.Let’s briefly underscore what exactly I mean by “ubiquity” and “power” in the context of mobile learning.I will then summarize UNESCO’s efforts to help bridge the ubiquitous and powerful devices to learning and EFA Goals.
Mobile devices are everywhere: today they can be found in rich and poor countries alike; in cities and, increasingly, in very remote towns and villages. This is not to suggest that everyone has a mobile device… BUT trends suggest that we are rapidly moving in that direction. Today MOST people on the planet own and use a mobile device of some sort.Let me quickly highlight some statistics…
This data comes from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which has helped organize this event and is the UN’s specialized agency for information and communication technologies.The date points are impressive:Many observers say mobile technologies—and mobile phones in particular—have spread wider and faster than any technology in history.
The story is similar in the developing world.In poor countries growth the uptake of mobile technology has been impressive. Cumulatively these numbers tell the story of a world in which every man, woman, and child is likely, at some point down the road, to have a personal mobile device.As before all this data comes from the ITU.
Currently,Africa has the lowest penetration of mobile technology of any continent on Earth. YET it is also the fastest growing mobile market.Those who do not yet own mobile technology are buying it en masse. Growth has been exponential.Data from:Grosskurth, 2010:http://www.stt.nl/uploads/documents/192.pdfITU, 2011: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/at_glance/KeyTelecom.htmlGSMA and IBM, 2011:http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/global/share/19jan2012/mobile_africa/
Concurrently and relatedly mobile devices are growing more powerful and more dexterous. This part of the equation is key and it helps explain the incredible growth in mobile subscriptions.
Within a decade mobile devices have moved from a fairly “ho-hum” technology (a sort of luxury good) to devices of tremendous functionality. For many people around the globe their mobile device is an appendage of sorts, as central to their day-to-day life as the thumbs and fingers they use to manipulate it. Today a mid-range smart phone is as powerful and likely easier to use than a state of the art desktop computer from 2005. It is also, arguably, far more useful because it is with a person most of the time and therefore more easily integrated into day-to-day tasks. For example while a computer can show you how to get from “Point A” to “Point B” a mobile device can guide you in the here-and-now.
The functionality of mobile technologies is only going to accelerate. It’s easy to forget that the first mainstream mobile app store was created, by Apple Computer, just four years ago, in July 2008. That means that just four years ago apps were mostly unknown.Fast-forward a few years:29 billion mobile apps were downloaded in 2011 alone, up from 9 billion in 2010.Industry experts project that mobile software will increase from 7.3 billion USD to 36.7 billion USD by 2015. What was once a fancy device to make phone calls and play music, has morphed into a technology that assists me with banking, healthcare, and myriad work tasks.Education has thus far been largely an afterthought, but that is changing literally by the day… It’s revealing that when we started this work a little over a year ago, people sort of rolled their eyes at the mention of “mobile learning.” That is less true today.
So what does all this mean to UNESCO??? How do the points about ubiquity and power fit together? What are their relevance to you and to UNESCO?According to UNESCO’s research, some of the poorest people on Earth now have working mobile devices.People who don’t know how to use computers or other ICT often can use mobile technology.Many analysts and industry experts say the future of technology will be mobile technology and that teaching and learning will increasingly be assisted through the application of this technology.
SO… the stage is set…
We suddenly have a new tool in our educational “arsenal” to help the students and teachers in our communities and countries. How can you advantage of the mobile technologies their citizens already own (or are likely to own in the future) to further EFA goals and improve teaching and learning.
So… we are scanning the globe to make sense of what mobile technology can and cannot do to buttress education. It’s worth noting that we use a fairly loose definition of mobile technology at UNESCO. It encompasses tablets, e-readers, and dedicated gaming devices, but primarily we are speaking about mobile phones simply because of their ubiquity.
SO how have we gone about this? Rather than simply theorize about “potentials” and “what is possible,” we wanted to get our hands dirty. We wanted to understand what is actual, what is actually happening on the ground. It’s fine and good to say mobile technology CAN do such-and-such for education, but we wanted to assemble a catalogue of what is real, what is occurring in the here-and-now. To do this we wrote—brace yourselves—12 regional papers. All were published in English earlier this year and relevant translations will be released before December. Each paper is around 50 pages long.The papers are broken into two sets of six papers which I’ll speak about now…
The first set zooms in on mobile learning initiatives and programs around the world. If you’re curious about what is happening with regards to mobile learning in Latin America, we’ve got you covered.I should mention however some important caveats:The papers are NOT a comprehensive or exhaustive reviews (we don’t mention every program by any stretch of the imagination, nor do we feel that would even be possible).Instead we tried to scan for illustrative examples, programs that reveal something significant, fresh, or important about mobile learning.Not all countries are mentioned, unfortunately and if we overlooked something essential, please let us know. The English language versions are up and ready. They are freely accessible from the UNESCO website. We will soon be releasing relevant translations of select titles. Later this fall we plan to publish a Spanish version of the Latin America paper as will an Arabic version of the Africa and Middle East paper.The Global Themes paper will be translated into three languages: Arabic, French, and Spanish.
Running in parallel, to the papers on illustrative initiatives and programs, is a set of six papers—following the same geographical divisions—that examines how mobile technologies can support the work of teachers. According to our research, teachers are often overlooked in discussions about ICT in education and we wanted to understand directly—rather than as an afterthought—how mobile devices are being (and might be) used to assist educators. Like the other papers, we have translations in pipeline:We plan to release a Spanish version of the Latin America paper and an Arabic version of the Africa and Middle East paper.And again, the Global Themes paper will also be translated into three languages: Arabic, French, and Spanish.
And… just in case you need an excuse to comb through nearly 500 pages of information about mobile learning, the World Bank had some nice things to say about our publication.We have been impressed by the interest in our work and believe that it has helped spark some international dialogue about the educational uses of mobile technologies. We sincerely hope you’ll be able to peruse the regional papers.World Bank Source: Mike Trucano, the senior ICT in education specialist at the World BankWe are pleased to report that the papers have:Helped spark international dialogue about how mobile technologies might be used improve education in a diversity of contextsAccelerated efforts to leverage mobile technologies for educational purposesStarted conversations among educators and policy makers about how mobile technologies might be more effectively integrated into formal systems of educationAnd perhaps nudged mobile technologies from the margins of education closer to the mainstream
In addition to the regional reviews, UNESCO has also drafted and will publish two additional “Issues” papers in the coming weeks. These papers step back and look at mobile learning more broadly and from a policy perspective. The aim is to help people like you maximize the educational possibilities and promise of mobile technologies.
The first paper aims to give policy makers a lay of the land and provide pointed advice about how to go about creating policies that invite and enable mobile learning.
The second paper looks at where mobile learning is heading.Developing good policy is tricky because it requires keeping one eye fixed on the ground (the “here and now”) and one eye on the horizon. For this reason, UNESCO wanted to produce a paper that would help you and other policy makers and others consider the future of mobile learning and make suggestions on how to plan for that future.
We are also running a separate program that looks specifically at how mobile technologies can help improve the literacy skills of women and girls.This is an important line of inquiry for UNESCO. According to data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, two thirds of the 793 million illiterate adults in the world are women.We also know that women and girls in many communities are discouraged from using or owning mobile technologies. This represents a missed opportunity as mobile devices can empower individuals and, as UNESCO’s research has shown, provide rich educational opportunities. By the way… the picture on this slide shows women and girls who are taking part in a mobile learning project run out of the UNESCO office in Islamabad, Pakistan. The program uses mobile phones to help women and girls living in remote regions retain and improve their literacy skills after completing a face-to-face literacy class.
This slide shows the publications that will be written in connection with our mobile learning gender project. The 9 case studies aim for depth over breadth. Each case study will examine a single mobile learning project that is promoting literacy among women and girls in developing countries.The regional reviews will provide a more panoramic view and consolidate high-level findings.Finally, global comparative analysis will balance the pros and cons of different approaches to inform the development of future programs or the scaling up of existing programs. Expect all of these publications to be released in 2013.
And last but certainly not least… are our mobile learning projects in the field. This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. In effect, apart from merely theorizing mobile learning and cataloguing important programs and initiatives, we are also funding on-the-ground projects in four countries: Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Senegal. All of these projects seek to leverage mobile technologies to help develop and support the work of classroom teachers. Each program will employ a different approach to support the work of teachers. These project—which, unfortunately, I don’t have time to explain in depth—will help expand our understanding of how mobile technology can help teachers do a difficult job better and reveal important information about what projects work, which ones don’t, in what particular contexts, and why. As usual, UNESCO will evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the different projects and share these results.It is worth noting that to run all of these projects UNESCO has identified and partnered with established teacher training institutes or NGOs in each of the four countries. These institutes and organizations will help run and oversee the projects. Also, these organizations are well positioned to scale-up successful projects and ensure their sustainability.
All of this work has provided (and will continue to provide) essential input for the Mobile Learning Guidelines. The guidelines seek to synthesize a great deal of information into a lean document that will be useful to people like you.
The aims of the guidelines are pretty straightforward.Because mobile learning is new we wanted our document to: Raise awareness : essentially underscore what mobile learning is and why it mattersPromote the value and practicality of mobile leaningAnd, perhaps most importantly, venture some high-level policy recommendationsThe primary audience of the document is… well… all of you. ICT in education experts and policy makers. Now, without further ado… let me know share highlights from the guidelines themselves.
The Guidelines are divided into two main sections: The first section details the educational affordances and benefits of mobile technologies.The second sections makes concrete policy recommendations. Lets take a closer look at the “unique benefits” and then I’ll move into the policy recommendations and conclude my presentation.
We identified 10 unique benefits of using mobile technologies for learning.Be aware that this was, of course, an exercise in distillation. There are other benefits and even the benefits we separated out are hardly islands; there is a great deal of cross over. For example, it can be argued that a defining characteristic of personalized learning is that it can happen anytime and anywhere. And certainly learning that can happen anytime and anywhere is going to extend the reach of education. With these qualifications in mind though, I think the list is an important starting point for policy makers and others who are asking: “What’s all the fuss about mobile learning?” I think the list highlights the main benefits of mobile learning while also differentiating it from learning facilitated by other, non-mobile ICTs. I only have time to say a few words about each of these 10 benefits, but should you want additional information, the Guidelines themselves are on the internet and can be accessed… well… anytime and anywhere you have an internet connection.
And now with those benefits in mind…UNESCO has proposed a set of 10 policy guidelines to help perhaps maximize the traction and impact of those benefits. As before, these recommendations are by no means comprehensive and there is also a bit of blurring between them. That said, they articulate how you and your colleagues might like to approach mobile learning and relevant ICT in education policy. Let me briefly provide some explanation for each of the 10 recommendations. Please keep in mind that the actual document is available to you, so no need to scribble notes.
Unesco's work in mobile learning CoSN
UNESCO’s Work in Mobile Learning Francesc PedróTeacher Development and Education Policies
Ubiquitousand powerful mobile devices Potential to benefit learners everywhere Expandingapplicabilityfor teachingand learning
Our communities are increasingly saturatedwith mobile technologies:• There are an estimated 6 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide.• 90% of world’s population and 80% of people living in rural areas have mobile coverage.• For every one person who accesses the internet from a computer two do so from a mobile device.• 105 countries have more mobile phone subscriptions than inhabitants.• Sales of tablet computers are expected to surpass sales of PCs by 2016.
Explosive growth in the developing world:• Developing countries accounted for more than 80% of the 660 million new mobile subscriptions added in 2011.• In 2011, 142 million mobile subscriptions were added in India alone.• Mobile broadband subscriptions have grown 45% annually over the last four years.
In Africa mobile connectivity is becoming increasingly common 2012 Estimated 735 2005 million mobile 87 million mobile subscriptions1995 subscriptions600,000 mobilesubscriptions
Vastly Improved Functionality: Bona fide computer Multimedia Large screen communication smartphones and tablets Feature phones Seamless Limited internet internet Basic phone calls compatibility compatibility Small screens No internet compatibility
Significance:• Learners who might not have access to high- quality education or even schools often do have working mobile phones.• People generally know how to use mobile phones for communication and other purposes.• Mobile technologies will become more ubiquitous and powerful in the future.
Given the ubiquity and power of mobile devices, UNESCO iscommitted to understanding their potential to expand educational opportunities and sharing this information with others.
Our Guiding Question:How can countries best leveragemobile technologies to supportEFA goals and enrich learning?
Turning on Mobile Learning in …• Africa and the Middle East• Asia• Europe• Latin America• North America• Global Themes
Mobile Learning for Teachers in…• Africa and the Middle East• Asia• Europe• Latin America• North America• Global Themes
“This series of papers is highly recommendedreading, given its geographic diversity and thebreadth (if not depth) of initiatives it considers.”
Issues Paper: Mobile Learning PolicyAdvice to policy makerson how to takeadvantage of theunique educationalaffordances of mobiletechnologies
Issues Paper: Future of Mobile LearningHelps policy makersenvision and preparefor the future of mobilelearning
Mobile Learning and Gender Project Goals: Empower women and girls through education via innovative mobile technology- based learning and information programmes. Promote, retain and improve the use of literacy skills of illiterate and neo-literate women and girls. Provide access to information on issues, such as civic and human rights, health and hygiene, nutrition, agriculture, or banking.
Coming publications with a focus on gender… (Africa)*Case Study 1*Case Study 2 (Latin America &*Case Study 3 the Caribbean) *Case Study 8 Africa Asia Global Regional Regional Comparative(Asia & the Pacific) Review Review Analysis *Case Study 4 (Arab States) *Case Study 5 *Case Study 9 *Case Study 6 *Case Study 7 Global level Country level cases Regional level reviews comparison
On-The-Ground Mobile Learning ProjectsMexico: Enhance the teaching Nigeria: Support the pedagogicalpractice of Spanish language practice and content knowledgeteachers working with students of English language teacherswho speak indigenous languagesPakistan: Develop the Senegal: Improve the teaching ofprofessional practice of early science and math in secondarychildhood care and education schoolsinstructors working in rural areas.
Putting it all together Gender andFour Country Working Mobile Projects Papers Series: Learning Global Project ReviewsIssues Paper Issue Paper on on Mobile the Future of Learning Mobile Policy Guidelines Learning for Mobile Learning Policy Online Support Resources
Aims of the Guidelines:• Raise awareness and put mobile learning onto the ICT in Education agenda.• Promote value and practicability of mobile learning.• Make high-level recommendations for creating policies that enable mobile learning.Primary Audience:• Policy makers
UNESCO Guidelines on Mobile Learning Two main sections Unique Benefits of Mobile Policy Technologies for Recommendations Learning
1) Expand the reach and equity of education2) Facilitate personalized learning3) Power anytime, anywhere learning4) Provide immediate feedback and assessment5) Ensure the productive use of time spent inclassrooms6) Build new communities of studentsSupport situated learning7) Enhance seamless learning8) Bridge formal and informal learning9) Improve communication and administration10) Maximize cost efficiency
1) Create or update policies related to mobile learning2) Train teachers to advance learning through mobiletechnologies3) Provide support and training to teachers through mobiletechnologies4) Optimize educational content for use on mobile devices5) Ensure gender equality for mobile students6) Expand and improve connectivity options while ensuringequity7) Develop strategies to provide devices for students whocannot afford them8) Use mobile technology to improve communication andeducation management9) Promote the safe, responsible, and healthy use of mobiletechnologies10) Raise awareness of mobile learning throughadvocacy, leadership, and dialogue
Many thanks F.Pedro@UNESCO.orgAvailable at: /francescpedroFollow us: @FrancescPedroED /francesc.pedroED