Dr Math on MXit
Started in January, 2007 by Meraka Institute / Mobi LED
Provides tutors to help with mathematics homework
Pupils use Mxit on their cell phones
Tutors are engineering students from University of Pretoria
Over 5,500 pupils have used the service
Tutors help approximately 50 pupils per hour
Service runs from 14:00 – 22:00 Sunday - Thursday
Tutoring mostly done in English, but some Afrikaans cases are occurring
Learners contact Dr Math from their homes, while on buses, taxis and on the
sports field. Even from the bath!
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 "pre algebra" 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 competitions
Prime factors of a number
Root of a straight line
Intersection of two straight lines
Factors of a quadratic
Real roots of a quadratic
Dr Math results
Learners would compete for many times a day
Learners would regularly come back to defend his or her
Learners often did hundreds of calculations to maintain
their title as champion
Learners often competed until the early hours of the
Learners often changed their Mxit alias (or nick name) to
more socially acceptable names after they won
2 month pilot with 260 learners:
− Total visits / Views so far: 49,502
− Total questions answered so far: 13,192
− Visits per day: 991
Learners really liked the combination of chat and learning
Learners were doing much more exercises than normally
Learners were studying maths A LOT after school hours
Age of the Prosumer “Teens and Young Adults
more than just
consumers and they
want their chance to
produce content and
involve themselves in
the brand more than
(Generation Next, 2009)
Need to manage risks:
− Effects of TXTSPK on spelling/formal writing
− Too much “screen time”
− Inappropriate content
Costs, sustainability, inclusion, scale, equity,
what is mobile learners need information at
learners need to work in groups?
what is the need? learners not motivated?
learners don't have textbooks?
teachers are over-worked – need
not enough PCs?
no stable electricity?
what is mobile learners are connected
learning? learners are mobile
within reach (socially,
economically or geographically)
examples: tutoring, games,
literacy development, location
think beyond the computer lab
not either PC or cellphone, use
It's mobile Online access: 1bn (source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10149534-93.html ) Mobile access: 4bn (source: http://www.thetelecom.co.uk/20081001/un-4bn-mobile-users-by-2009/ ) Image of mobile phone by ICT4D.at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ict4d/3000017623/sizes/l/ CC-BY-SA-2.0
Source: Merryl Ford, Meraka, Presentation given at SAFIPA Conference, Pretoria, 8-10 July 2009
Source: World Bank (2006). Information and Communications for Development: Global Trends and Policies 2006.
Quote taken from Merryl Ford's presentation “ Dr Math – A mobile tutoring platform for Africa?” at the SAFIPA conference, Pretoria, 8-10 June 2009
Source: Laurie Butgereit.
Source: Laurie Butgereit.
Source: Adele Botha.
This is conversation between a university tutor and grade 7 learner, happening via mobile instant messaging. See: http://innovatingeducation.wordpress.com/conference-notes/schools-ict-conference-2008-notes/ Text for the image: Butgereit, L. (2007). Math on MXit: Using MXit as a Medium for Mathematics Education. Presented at Meraka INNOVATE Conference for Educators, CSIR, Pretoria, 18-20 April 2007. http://researchspace.csir.co.za/dspace/handle/10204/1614
The first MXit competition: When a learner enters the competition, she sees the current TopScore Learner would be given 10 calculations If the learner bettered or tied the existing TopScore, then this learner would become the new TopScore The deposed TopScore is sent a message saying that he or she was deposed and was invited back to defend the title Source: Merryl Ford's presentation “ Dr Math – A mobile tutoring platform for Africa?” at the SAFIPA conference, Pretoria, 8-10 June 2009
Source: Merryl Ford's presentation “ Dr Math – A mobile tutoring platform for Africa?” at the SAFIPA conference, Pretoria, 8-10 June 2009
Text Adventure Games Participant works through a maze of puzzles Instead of magic wands and keys, various calculations would be written on the wall, the dust, etc. The results of these calculations would open digital safes, digital keypads, and remote controls Source: Merryl Ford's presentation “ Dr Math – A mobile tutoring platform for Africa?” at the SAFIPA conference, Pretoria, 8-10 June 2009
Some project stats: * Nokia 6300 phones used (entry level phone) * 43 mini videos (2-3 mins long) loaded onto phones (taken from existing Mindset digital content). Interesting finding: the girls wanted more videos. After watching 3 minute video they asked: “Where is more?” This counters the original assumption that only short mobile movies will retain user attention. * 3 “mobisode” (mobile episode) animations. * 2 games: o An overt maths problem solving game o An implicit business development simulation game * All curriculum aligned * Grade 10 girls: 20 got phones, 20 in control group who didn’t get phones * 6 month project Initial results of the project: * Exceptionally high usage of the games and video clips by the learners. * Problem solving is collaborative. When stuck with a problem, the kids asked each other and their siblings. * “Teacher in my pocket”. Refs: M4Girls and Innovating Education
One of the schools in the “Imfundo Yami/Yethu” project. Resources are severly limited. There are not enough textbooks for the learners. Most of the learners in the pilot did have access to a mobile phone. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)
The principal at the school. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)
One of the teachers at the school. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)
Computers were donated to the school, but are not being used. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)
Diagram by Adele Botha. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)
Screenshots of the Imfundo Yami/Yethu Moodle web back-end system
Source: Riitta Vanska's presentation “Imfundo Yami/Yethu: South Africa Mobile Learning for Math's Project” at the SAFIPA conference, Pretoria, 8-10 June 2009
Courtesy of Marlon Parker. See http://marlonparker.blogspot.com/
Another Marlon Parker project in Cape Town
The fifth annual Sunday Times Generation Next Study, conducted by HDI Youth Marketeers in conjunction with Monash University (South Africa), polled 5,272 South African youth about their brand preferences and consumer behaviour. The sample consisted of youth aged 8-22 years in urban and peri-urban settings from six provinces. In this study “youth” represent three groups: Kids/Tweens — primary school learners, aged 8-13 years; Teens — secondary school learners, aged 14-18 years; and Young Adults — youth who have completed their schooling, aged 19-22 years. In South Africa more than 52% of the population is under the age of 23. See: http://mlearningafrica.net/2009/06/01/south-africas-youth-are-mobile-savvy/
For an interesting viewpoint on TXTSPK, read 2b or not 2b? by David Crystal: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jul/05/saturdayreviewsfeatres.guardianreview He reminds us that using non-standard language is nothing new, e.g. wot and cos were introduced into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1829. TXTSPK forces people to write economically, inventively and playfully.