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One Mobile per School

If you had one mobile phone per school, what could you do with that? How could it support education? Presented virtually by Steve Vosloo at USAID m4Ed4Dev Seminar, 14 April 2011

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One Mobile per School

  1. 1. 1 MOBILE/SCHOOLSteve VosloomLab Southern AfricaUSAID m4Ed4Dev Seminar, 14 April 2011
  2. 2. About memLearning practitioner from South AfricaFocus on mobiles and literacy – see www.yozaproject.comNow Mobile Impact Evangelist at mLab Southern Africa, a brand newincubator for mobile apps and content in the
  3. 3. If you had onemobile perschool …What could you do?Let’s look at threescenarios …Image: (CC-BY-NC-SA)
  4. 4. 1 Mobile/school: Scraping the barrelThe worst case scenario ….•  1 Basic phone•  SIM card with no money•  Very small memory for storing content•  Intermittent electricity•  No mobile data coverage (voice, SMS and USSD only)•  Voice, SMS and USSD is expensive to use
  5. 5. 1 Mobile/school: Scraping the barrelThings you could do:•  Regional “system strengthening” activities: •  Education Dept broadcasting updates to headmasters and teachers•  School “system strengthening” activities: •  If a school can send cheap or free SMSes it can use FrontlineSMS or SchoolTool in South Africa to: •  SMS broadcast to teachers: admin updates, timetable changes, motivational messages, etc. •  SMS teacher and student attendance back to Education Dept •  SMS broadcast to parents
  6. 6. 1 Mobile/school: Scraping the barrelThings you could do:•  Classroom activities: •  SMS dictionary lookup •  Wikipedia lookup using MobileAudiowiki ( •  Attach a speaker and have class listen to educational audio content (paid for by Education Dept or corporate sponsor) •  Take part in SMS-based knowledge quizzes, e.g. in Uganda •  Remember: phone can also be used by groups of students, one at a timeImage:
  7. 7. 1 Mobile/school: Looking betterA much better scenario ….•  1 Feature phone with camera•  SIM card with not much money•  Small memory for storing content•  Intermittent electricity•  Only GPRS mobile data coverage•  At least one of voice, SMS or mobile data is relatively cheap, e.g. in South Africa mobile data is cheap, in India SMS is very cheap
  8. 8. 1 Mobile/school: Looking betterThings you could do:•  All of the above, plus …•  “System strengthening” of Education Administration •  Education Dept publishes info on mobisite which headmasters and teachers can access•  Classroom activities: •  Take/share photos, e.g. of plants for Biology project •  Record audio and video and share via Bluetooth, e.g. Dissections for All project in South Africa (mobile phones used to create short videos of frog dissections and shared) •  Access web:,,, etc. •  Read m-novels aloud from
  9. 9. 1 Mobile/school: Looking betterThings you could do:•  After hours activities: •  IM Chat (using GPRS) for live tutoring, e.g. Dr Math on MXit in South Africa •  IM Chat amongst networks of teachers or headmasters for support and sharingWhat else?Image:
  10. 10. 1 Mobile/school: Ideal worldThe ideal scenario ….•  1 Smart phone•  1 Pico projector•  SIM card, loaded with money•  Memory card loaded with educational content•  Constant electricity•  3G coverage•  Subsidised for educational use •  Free/low cost calls •  Free SMSes •  “Zero rated” (free) mobile data browsing
  11. 11. 1 Mobile/school: Ideal worldThings you could do:•  All of the above, plus …•  Classroom utilities: •  Play educational videos from phone through Pico projector/TV, e.g. Text2Teach project in Philippines and Tanzania •  Download and share mlearning educational resources •  Collaborate with other schools on projects, e.g. via a Facebook page •  Blog, Facebook, Twitter •  Download streaming video from, e.g. Khan Academy on YoutubeWhat else?
  12. 12. But maybe we should ask:What is “mobile”?•  Is an MP3 player which is connected to speakers and broadcasting an audio lesson on English or math considered a mobile device?•  How about a flash drive with educational content accessed from a nearby telecenter/cybercafé and used in a classroom by a teacher with a small projector to project learning materials for an entire class?•  Comments?
  13. 13. Barriers to use•  Cost!•  mLearning content•  Lack of awareness of how mobiles can support educational ecosystem•  Lack of school “acceptable use policies” – many just ban mobile phones•  Uneven access•  Electricity (although people mostly “find a way”)•  Privacy issues
  14. 14. mLab Southern Africa newsletterWe will publish news about mobile usage, mlearning andother mobile related issues, e.g. mhealth, from southernAfricaTo subscribe:
  15. 15. Thank (CC-BY-NC-SA)