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Let's ban malls! Rethinking cellphones in education


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Presented at NAPTOSA Principals Conference, 31 July 2009, Johannesburg

Published in: Education, Travel, Spiritual
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Let's ban malls! Rethinking cellphones in education

  1. 1. Presented at NAPTOSA, 31 July 2009, South Africa Let's ban malls! <ul><ul><li>Steve Vosloo, Shuttleworth Foundation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rethinking cellphones in education </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. <ul><li>3 things </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile revolution </li></ul><ul><li>Media hype vs real examples </li></ul><ul><li>Rethink </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Africa is mobile </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile subscribers to fixed lines = 15:1 </li></ul><ul><li>Fastest growing market in the world </li></ul><ul><li>“ There isn’t a digital divide in Africa, there is a digital difference” (Adele Botha)‏ </li></ul>
  4. 4. Cellphone ownership in SA <ul><ul><ul><li>(Kaiser Family Foundation & SABC, 2007)‏ </li></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Rural access in SA <ul><li>Computer at home: 2% </li></ul><ul><li>Have a cellphone: 62% </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Kaiser Family Foundation & SABC, 2007)‏ </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Merryl Ford (2009)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>“ The cellphone is poised to become the 'PC of Africa'” </li></ul>
  7. 9. What is MXit? <ul><li>A mobile instant messaging (MIM) system </li></ul><ul><li>Chatting, games, content </li></ul><ul><li>South African (works on all networks)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>14m users </li></ul><ul><li>Social and cheap! </li></ul>
  8. 10. What the people and papers say <ul><li>Analysis of 24 newspaper articles: 2006 – 2008 </li></ul>
  9. 11. MXit ... <ul><li>Is addictive (27 times)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Exposes children to pornography (13 times)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>“ Is a hunting ground for perverse predators intent on luring children into their clutches.” </li></ul>
  10. 12. MXit ... <ul><li>Is a drug </li></ul><ul><li>“ Its’ a starting point for a lot of problems” (The Star)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Is evil </li></ul><ul><li>“ MXit is one of the major evils of the 21st Century” (Cape Argus)‏ </li></ul>
  11. 16. MXit ... <ul><li>“ Sordid Sex scare on cellphone chat system” (Weekend Post)‏ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>20 year old woman leaves partner and child for a new lover she met on MXit. New love doesn’t work, comes back. She finds new lover again, leaves again </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Teen cocaine parties are organized through MXit (Mail & Guardian)‏ </li></ul>
  12. 17. From New Era, Namibia <ul><li>Namibia's youth are becoming addicted to alcohol, crack cocaine, heroine ... </li></ul><ul><li>... and cellphones </li></ul><ul><li>“ Another – more conspicuous but less fretted about – addiction among the youth, said Adams, is the all pervasive use of mobile phones, and Facebook where youngsters insult and expose each other.” </li></ul>
  13. 18. The mall is ground zero of evil <ul><li>Teens having sex in the mall - they meet via MXit </li></ul><ul><li>“ I blame MXit, because these teenagers are meeting their contacts here and that’s when things go out of hand” (Security guard of a mall)‏ </li></ul>
  14. 19. So ... let's ban malls!
  15. 20. And MXit too ... <ul><li>If MXit is not banned “we’ll lose our future generation … we will surely damage the social fabric of society” (High School Principal -- Cape Argus)‏ </li></ul>
  16. 21. Study conclusion <ul><li>Parents, principals, et al. are talking about a generic conceptualisation of MXit which includes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>MIMs (e.g. Mig33, Noknok, etc.)‏ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Broad range of mobile applications </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The entire cellphone </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Moral panic </li></ul>
  17. 22. Why? <ul><li>Mobile applications have created a space over which parents and educators have little or no control </li></ul><ul><li>“ Scapegoating” – blaming social ills on something </li></ul><ul><li>... We must ban it! ... </li></ul>
  18. 23. Ban? <ul><li>Are we throwing the baby out with the bath water? </li></ul><ul><li>What if ... </li></ul><ul><li>... cellphones really can support, enable and improve teaching and learning, assessment and administration? </li></ul><ul><li>... we engage and experiment? </li></ul><ul><li>... we eat the meat and spit out the bones? </li></ul>
  19. 24. <ul><li>mLearning examples </li></ul><ul><li>Tutoring </li></ul>
  20. 25. Dr Math on MXit <ul><li>Started in January, 2007 by Meraka Institute / Mobi LED </li></ul><ul><li>Provides tutors to help with mathematics homework on cellphones </li></ul><ul><li>Over 5,500 pupils have used the service </li></ul><ul><li>Tutors help approximately 50 pupils per hour </li></ul><ul><li>Service runs from 14:00 – 22:00, Sunday - Thursday </li></ul><ul><li>Tutoring mostly done in English, but some Afrikaans cases are occurring </li></ul><ul><li>Learners contact Dr Math from their homes, while on buses, taxis and on the sports field. Even from the bath! </li></ul>
  21. 27. dr.math: What grade are you in? what are you covering in math? Spark plug: 7 dr.math: grade 7? Spark plug: yes dr.math: Are you doing &quot;pre algebra&quot; stuff like What is the value of X if x + 3 = 10? Spark plug: yes dr.math: Ok, so what is the value of x if x + 3 = 10? Spark plug: 7 dr.math: Ok. how about (15 x 2 ) + x = 35 Spark plug: 5 dr.math: (I am going to use * for multiply so not to confuse it with x, ok?)‏ Spark plug: ok dr.math: (2 * x) + 8 = 18 Spark plug: 5 dr.math: Very good. can you explain to me how you figured that out? Spark plug: 18 - 8 is 10 so 2* what is 10 and the answer is 5 dr.math: Excellent.
  22. 28. <ul><li>mLearning examples </li></ul><ul><li>Games </li></ul>
  23. 29. Dr Math competitions <ul><li>Addition </li></ul><ul><li>Subtraction </li></ul><ul><li>Multiplication </li></ul><ul><li>Division </li></ul><ul><li>BODMAS </li></ul><ul><li>Prime factors of a number </li></ul><ul><li>Root of a straight line </li></ul><ul><li>Intersection of two straight lines </li></ul><ul><li>Factors of a quadratic </li></ul><ul><li>Real roots of a quadratic </li></ul>
  24. 31. Dr Math results <ul><li>Learners would compete many times a day </li></ul><ul><li>Learners would regularly come back to defend their title </li></ul><ul><li>Learners often did hundreds of calculations to maintain their title as champion </li></ul><ul><li>Learners often competed until the early hours of the morning </li></ul><ul><li>Learners often changed their MXit nick names to more socially acceptable names after they won (PIMP(*)STAR -> Qun of Maths -> smartyCAT)‏ </li></ul>
  25. 32. M4Girls project <ul><li>Improve maths in grade 10 rural girls (by Mindset / Nokia)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Nokia 6300's loaded with: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>43 mini videos, 3 “mobisode” animations, 2 games </li></ul></ul>
  26. 33. <ul><li>mLearning examples </li></ul><ul><li>Quizzes and assessment </li></ul>
  27. 35. “ Imfundo Yami/Yethu” <ul><li>Nokia / MXit / DoE </li></ul><ul><li>Improve high school maths through drill-and-practise quizzes </li></ul><ul><li>2 month pilot with 260 learners </li></ul>
  28. 36. Learning Management System
  29. 41. Imfundo Yami/Yethu results <ul><li>Visits per day: 991 </li></ul><ul><li>Total questions answered: 13,192 </li></ul><ul><li>Learners really liked the combination of chat and learning maths </li></ul><ul><li>Learners were doing many more exercises than usual </li></ul><ul><li>Learners were studying maths A LOT after school hours </li></ul>
  30. 42. <ul><li>mLearning examples </li></ul><ul><li>Peer support </li></ul>
  31. 43. Drug, abuse and debt counseling
  32. 44. <ul><li>mLearning examples </li></ul><ul><li>Information dissemination </li></ul>
  33. 45. Angels on MXit: HIV/AIDS info
  34. 46. <ul><li>mLearning examples </li></ul><ul><li>Literacy development </li></ul>
  35. 49. Reading/writing on cellphone <ul><li>Story: 14-16 years, ESL </li></ul><ul><li>Serialised m-novel: 21 days = 21 chapters (400 words per chapter)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>Vote, comment, discuss, write </li></ul><ul><li>Weekly prizes: best comment </li></ul><ul><li>Competition: write the sequel </li></ul><ul><li>Launching 30 September! Email [email_address] to be reminded </li></ul>
  36. 50. But ... <ul><li>Need to manage risks: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distraction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Cyberbullying” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Effects of TXTSPK on spelling/formal writing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Too much “screen time” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Inappropriate content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Privacy/safety </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Costs, sustainability, inclusion, scale, equity, etc. </li></ul>
  37. 51. <ul><li>Challenge </li></ul><ul><li>Think beyond the computer lab </li></ul><ul><li>Don't ban ... engage, experiment </li></ul><ul><li>Work together to find solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Rethink cellphones </li></ul>
  38. 53. Zambian principals and teachers <ul><li>“ I only thought of a mobile phone as a communication tool, which is why we don’t allow them in the classroom. Now I understand that they can be used as a learning tool and can support our teaching process.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I can now text assignments to learners, and also my reflections on their assignments.” </li></ul>
  39. 55. Zambian principals and teachers <ul><li>“ I’ve learned that I don’t have to be the expert with the phone — I don’t have to be an expert to be in control. I can identify key learners who can help me and other learners with their phones.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I didn’t know that a cellphone could be used to take a video and send that to another person. I didn’t know that I could blue-something [bluetooth] a picture to a friend.” </li></ul>
  40. 57. Zambian principals and teachers <ul><li>“ If you use a cellphone in the classroom you make teaching and learning more interesting, because that is what excites the learners.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ The children are ahead of us, they use cellphones all the time. The problem is the mindset of the older stakeholders: teachers, parents and the general community.” </li></ul>
  41. 59. Zambian principals and teachers <ul><li>“ I’ve learned that cellphones are as powerful to use as computers.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ It is quicker to access information on the internet through cellphones than on PCs.” </li></ul>
  42. 61. Rethink <ul><li>“ We haven’t really sat down and really thought about, 'Is this an important tool?' A lot of us are still thinking this is just a mobile phone and a mobile phone is for talking and this should not be in class” (Aiden McCarthy)‏ </li></ul><ul><li>The world is changing. Is education? </li></ul>
  43. 62. Thank you <ul><li>email: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>blog: </li></ul><ul><li>slides: </li></ul><ul><li>web: </li></ul><ul><li>twitter: </li></ul>
  44. 63. mLearning Africa News, projects and research about mobile learning in Africa Contact: [email_address]