mLearning in Africa

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Presented at the Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development Summit (VII International Seminar of the UNESCO Chair in e-Learning
), Barcelona, Spain, October 2010

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mLearning in Africa

  1. 1. mLearning in AfricaLessons from the m4Lit projectSteve VoslooPresented at Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development SummitBarcelona, October 2010
  2. 2. www.yoza.mobi
  3. 3. A tale of two halves1.m4Lit: The project2.Lessons With a sprinkling of reader comments ...
  4. 4. A good story, although very short. Id like to see more on MXit because it encourages reading! Lesleigh(F)The translated version.
  5. 5. A gud st0ri alth0ugh vewi sh0rt id lyk 2 c m0re 0n mxit bk0z it enc0uragez readin! Lesleigh(F)The original version.
  6. 6. 1. m4Lit: The project
  7. 7. m4Lit (mobiles for literacy) projectl South African project, launched August 2009, to explore mobile novels (m-novels) as a complement and alternative to printed literaturel Goals: − To explore whether teens are interested in reading stories on their mobile phones − To see whether and how they write using their mobile phones − To better understand mobile literaciesl Presented here: l Findings of pilot phase (August-December 2009) l From Jan to Sept 2010 (Kontax to Yoza)l Project ongoing, incubated by the Shuttleworth Foundation
  8. 8. 60,000 reads30,000 comments10,000 compo entriesSouth Africa and KenyaStatistics are for period 29 September 2009 to 22 September 2010 (mobi, MXit,YAL)
  9. 9. Rationale for m4Lit
  10. 10. 51% South African households that own no leisure books (TNS Research Surveys, 2006)TNS Research Surveys. (2006). National Survey into the Reading and Book Reading Behaviour of Adult SouthAfricans. Available at http://www.saccd.org.za/objects/sabdc_reading.pdf
  11. 11. 7% Public schools in South Africa that have functional libraries of any kind (Equal Education, 2009)Equal Education. (2009). EE rejects DoEs statement on school libraries. Available at http://www.equaleducation.org.za/press-a-views/press-releases/item/74-statement17dec2009.
  12. 12. The mobile revolution l South Africa has excellent mobile infrastructure l Good mobile coverage l High uptake of phones – up to 90% amongst urban youth (Kreutzer, 2009) l MXit, a mobile IM service, claims 15m registered users in South Africa l Mobile web access on the rise in the “townships” (Donner and Gitau, 2009) l Relatively low charges for mobile data (but expensive voice and SMS charges)Donner, J., and Gitau, S. (2009). New paths: exploring mobile-centric internet use in South Africa. Paper presentedat the Pre-Conference on Mobile Communication at the Annual Meeting of the International CommunicationAssociation. http://lirneasia.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/final-paper_donner_et_al.pdfKreutzer, T. (2009). Generation mobile: online and digital media usage on mobile phones among low-income urbanyouth in South Africa. University of Cape Town, Cape Town. http://tinokreutzer.org/mobile/Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40042565@N06/3680282383/License: Creative CommonsAttribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
  13. 13. Literacy and technology paradoxIn school Out of school Poor literacy Frequent interaction performance with written word and “Book-poor” digital technologies Low access to “Mobile-rich” computers(Walton, 2010)
  14. 14. I often hear this from parents, teachers and reporters:Teens dont read enoughTeens dont write enoughTeens love their phones
  15. 15. Its great ... for me it really hard topick up a book to start readin but idon mind readin on my phonedotty1
  16. 16. Will our teens read and write novels on their phones like in Japan?Rin, 21, wrote a mobile phone novel, with 400,000 hardcover sales.Photo: The New York Timeshttp://www.theage.com.au/news/world/mobile-phone-novels-ring-up-big-sales-but-critics-fear-forjapanese-literature/2008/01/22/1200764265347.html
  17. 17. Kontax, a teen m-novel
  18. 18. Story development workshop in KhayelitshaImage: Steve VoslooLicense: Creative CommonsAttribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic
  19. 19. Images: www.kontax.mobiLicense: Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.5 South Africa
  20. 20. 22
  21. 21. Kontax 1 Project pilot phase Planning Kontax 1Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2009 2010
  22. 22. >63,000 subscribers >28,000 aged 11-18 >27,000 aged 19-24 This uptake is substantial when compared to other youth brands on MXit MXit statistics are for period 31 October to 26 November“Subscriber numbers for Kontax (at least 63 310 subscribers in total) are sizable when compared to the miniscule loaudiences for conventional book publishing (even successful South African titles sell only around 5 000 copies). Evewhen compared to the 100 000 subscribers who signed up on MXit to receive content from popular commercial brasuch as X-Box, Kontax gained a substantial number of MXit subscribers.” (Walton, 2010)
  23. 23. Page view trend (Kontax 1)% of page views Chapters
  24. 24. >17,200 reads >7,200 teens readsMXit statistics are for period 31 October to 26 November 2009
  25. 25. It kwl an nyc nt boring. Andsiyafundisa.Thule
  26. 26. Ag!BORING. . .:-zThandi
  27. 27. Summary of research findingsl Most digital writing takes place on mobile phones (but it tends to be short, like SMS)l Most reading takes place on mobile phones or on paperl The isiXhosa version was popular, especially when considering the systematic marginalisation of the language in literacy contextsl Lots of peer to peer learningl “Data suggest a substantial amount of interest [in m- novels]” … and given the number of teens with mobile phones, there is “plenty of room for growth” (Walton, 2010) (Walton, 2010; Deumert, 2010)
  28. 28. Digital lives: Peer learning(Walton, 2010)
  29. 29. Mobile phones are aviable distributionplatform for longer formcontent and for enablingreader participation
  30. 30. T z a vry !ntstng stry,really attrtz daa attns f da reader.k!p t upL!hle
  31. 31. Its overated and typical bt great as itshow iz a local production 5 out of 104 mePule
  32. 32. Kontax 2, 3, 4YozaYoung Africa Live (YAL)
  33. 33. Kontax 1 Project pilot phase Planning Kontax 1Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2009 2010
  34. 34. m4Lit timeline Project pilot phase Planning Kontax 1Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2009 2010
  35. 35. m4Lit timeline Project pilot phase Kontax 2 Planning Kontax 1Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2009 2010
  36. 36. m4Lit timeline Project pilot phase Kontax 3 Kontax 2 Planning Kontax 1Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2009 2010
  37. 37. m4Lit timeline Project pilot phase Yoza Kontax 3 Kontax 2 Planning Kontax 1Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2009 2010
  38. 38. m4Lit timeline + Shakespeare Project pilot phase Yoza Kontax 3 Kontax 2 Planning Kontax 1Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep 2009 2010
  39. 39. Yoza i love your stuff your flava is hot(Anon)
  40. 40. On Vodafone Live!, zero datacharges (totally free)Content covers "love, sex andrelationships in the time of AIDS"By Praekelt Foundation
  41. 41. Estimated reads of Yoza series 22 Aug - 22 Sept 2010 (n=12289) 6000 4500 3000 1500 0 Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1
  42. 42. Estimated reads of Yoza series Over roughly the same initial period (1 month) 20000 When compared with initial Kontax launch, Yoza numbers are low 15000 10000 5000 0 Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1 Kontax 1
  43. 43. Estimated reads of Yoza series Over roughly the same initial period (1 month) 20000 But if YAL is included, then the Yoza series have done well 15000 10000 5000 0 Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1 Kontax 1 Yoza YAL
  44. 44. Competition entries of Yoza series 22 Aug - 22 Sept 2010 (n=1543) 1000 750 500 250 0 Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1
  45. 45. Competition entries of Yoza series Over roughly the same initial period (1 month) 2000 When compared with initial Kontax launch, Yoza numbers are low 1500 1000 500 0 Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1 Kontax 1
  46. 46. Competition entries of Yoza series Over roughly the same initial period (1 month) 3000 But if YAL is included, then the Yoza series have done well 2250 1500 750 0 Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1 Kontax 1 Yoza YAL
  47. 47. Comments on Yoza series 22 Aug - 22 Sept 2010 (n=8461) 5000 3750 2500 1250 0 Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1
  48. 48. Word cloud of comments and competition entries on Yoza, 22 August to 22 September 2010
  49. 49. Comparison of Yoza series 6000 4500 3000 1500 0 Reads Comments Competition entries Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1
  50. 50. Comparison of Yoza series 6000 Teen issues Romance 4500 3000 1500 0 Reads Comments Competition entries Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Sisterz 1 Streetskillz 1
  51. 51. What readers thought of Yoza series
  52. 52. First nd for-most id like 2 say is, Ashack is not a place we all proud ofliving but its what makes us who weare. I come from a shack. And believeme i have good memories in thatshack. And as 4 u amanda shame on ushame on u. Latoya my sweety pie improud of u, u dont need a atm u need adad. High five Latoya high five.:)Brian
  53. 53. If friars plan wrks, then romeo wil bable 2 cum nd take juliet wit hm 2 livhapily 2geda at mantua bt if it fails,sumbdys gna b dead. Lol!Elsie
  54. 54. I loved the book, wish it didnt have anending. Shakespear please bringanother one like this one. IT WASMWAAAH!!Blessed 1
  55. 55. Summary ofKontax 2, 3, 4YozaYoung Africa Live (YAL)
  56. 56. Summaryl For Yoza per se: l Novelty factor is real -- number of reads not as high as for initial Kontax launch l Number of competition entries also lower l But, high number of comments l And comments are generally longer l Older crowdl For m-novels on Yoza and YAL lHigh number of reads, comments and competition entries
  57. 57. 2. Lessons for m4Lit
  58. 58. Lesson:Mobile is a content monster
  59. 59. Image: TV Bomb. Available at http://www.tvbomb.co.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/Little-Shop-of-Horrors-Audrey-Plant.jpg. Copyright unknown.
  60. 60. Waiting for the next chapters kills me! Suzi*The translated version.
  61. 61. Lesson:Mobile is instant (and we didn’talways moderate in time)
  62. 62. Y0h weneva i ryt a bludi c0ment they dnt add it wat da f*** IZ GNG ON U R FLIPN WOKN ON MA NERVZ ND I TKE DA DECENSY 2 READ AL DA CHAPTERZ SO0O B0RING:e:((z) CheekyThe translated version.
  63. 63. Lesson:Mobile is always on
  64. 64. Times of responses400300200100 0 1:00 AM 3:00 AM 5:00 AM 7:00 AM 9:00 AM 11:00 AM 1:00 PM 3:00 PM 5:00 PM 7:00 PM 9:00 PM 11:00 PM Solution: moderate constantly
  65. 65. Lesson:Platform matters
  66. 66. Traffic via yoza.mobi: 1%, via MXit: 99%Also: compareConfessions 1on Yoza andon YAL(has establisheduser base)Solution: use someone elses platform if you can.
  67. 67. Lesson:Marketing matters
  68. 68. Uptake directly linked to marketingTradepost message:Heya! Kontax is a newmystery story aboutSbu, a missing girl & acellphone – VisitTradepost > MXit Mix Tradepost messages> Education > Kontaxnow to start readingthe exciting chapters,meet the characters &download awesomewallpapers. Be a partof this story… P-) (Walton, 2010)
  69. 69. Summary of m4Lit m-novels usageStatistics are for period 29 September 2009 to 22 September 2010(yoza.mobi,Yoza on MXit,YAL) Kontax 1+2 Kontax 3 Kontax 4 Confessions 1 Confessions 1 Streetskillz 1 Sisterz 1 Other Yoza TOTALS (Yoza) (YAL) stories Reads 34000 1164 5204 13479 1312 4609 59768 Comments 6400 3135 935 4321 11194 1033 2172 500 29690 Competition 4000 1856 223 946 2561 25 349 9960 entries
  70. 70. Lesson:Its hard to sustain interest
  71. 71. 26-Aug-2010: Tradepost message (advert)increased unique visitors to Yoza by 6.9 times10-Oct-2010: Tradepost message increasedunique visitors to Yoza by 1.3 timesNovelty factor?
  72. 72. Lesson:General audience is fickle,fans are loyal
  73. 73. Most prolific commenters on Yoza, 22 August to 22 September 2010
  74. 74. Some fans left more than 50 comments on Yoza ina month.Is the drop in numbers from launch to subsequentepisodes a problem? Perhaps it is just the curiousonlookers drifting off, while those really interestedcome closer ... the shift from quantity to quality?
  75. 75. Lesson:When reading becomes “snacky”,it’s hard (but not impossible) tomake it sticky
  76. 76. Lesson:Comments can be rich feedbackor absolute rubbish
  77. 77. Lesson:You might end up with somethingyou didn’t expect
  78. 78. Not all stats are in, and the age categories havechanged slightly since the start of the project,but ...There is a clear increase in uptake in the 19-25age group (we aimed for ages 11-18).Solution? Expect the unexpected.
  79. 79. Lesson:For us it’s not come cheap
  80. 80. Marketing: one Tradepost message = EUR3,500Content developmentHostingSoftware development, but that is once off and platformwill be open-sourced with Praekelt Foundation(developers)Solutions?1. Find someone with money, e.g. Nike, and get them topay for it.2. Formalise in the education system.3. You can do it for free, e.g. Wordpress with mobileplugin ... but don’t expect big numbers.
  81. 81. Lesson?Are we mainly reaching peoplewho already read?
  82. 82. Many user comments are by people who say they don’tread much.Majority of competition winners say they love to read.Based on the feedback we are reaching both.
  83. 83. So ... mlearning in Africa
  84. 84. “book poor”“mobile phone rich”e-reader of AfricaHUGE potential as m4Lit has demonstrated
  85. 85. The stories r interesting nd fun 2read, they kip ma englsh gngHlengiwe gulube
  86. 86. Kontax: Coverage and awards
  87. 87. Future
  88. 88. Not just literacy but social messaging contentKeep experimenting in this spaceExperiment with more interactive storytellingformats, e.g. Choose your own adventureAllowing teens to self-publishMove into formal education?
  89. 89. Key sources Two research reports produced for the pilot phase: Klk cc ... Supporting Indigenous Literacies in the Digital Space By Ana Deumert, March 2010 Linguistics, University of Cape Town Mobile literacies & South African teens: Leisure reading, writing, and MXit chatting for teens in Langa and Guguletu By Marion Walton, March 2010 Centre for Film and Media Studies, University of Cape Town Reports available at: m4lit.wordpress.com/reportsDeumert, A. (2010). Klk cc ... Supporting Indigenous Literacies in the Digital Space. Available at http://m4lit.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/m4lit_indigenous_literacies_adeumert_2010.pdf.Walton, M. (2010). Mobile literacies & South African teens: Leisure reading, writing, and MXit chatting for teens inLanga and Guguletu. Available at http://m4lit.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/m4lit_mobile_literacies_mwalton_2010.p
  90. 90. m4lit.wordpress.comsteve.vosloo@shuttleworthfoundation.org
  91. 91. Questions1.Effects of texting on non-English mother-tongue speakers?2.To what extent will teens allow “us” to occupy “their” space?3.Who is excluded from the mobile internet? (Walton, 2010)4.When reading becomes snacky, what does it do to concentration abilities?5.“There is a distance and conflict between mobile literacies and school literacies. This needs to be explored and better understood because mobile literacies are so pervasive in young peoples lives” (Walton, 2010). What do we do with this?
  92. 92. But isnt txtspk bad for literacy? l Various schools of thought on this (Vosloo, 2009) l "The more exposure you have to the written word [including txtspk] the more literate you become and we tend to get better at things that we do for fun" (Plester, 2009) l But, [while skills in mobile networking can be a valuable coping strategy,] “experience in chatting is unlikely to help teens produce written academic genres, or to qualify them for middle class jobs and careers” (Walton, 2010)Vosloo, S. E. (2009). The effects of texting on literacy: Modern scourge or opportunity? Available at: http://vosloo.net/wp-content/uploads/pubs/texting_and_literacy_apr09_sv.pdf.Plester, B. (2009). Texting improves language skill. Available at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7910075.stm.

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