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Mobile learning: South African examples

  1. Mobile learning South African examples Steve Vosloo, Shuttleworth Foundation Adele Botha, Meraka Institute Presented at Mobile Learning Institute Summit, 24-27 June 2009 Lusaka, Zambia 1
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  3. Africa is mobile mobile subscribers to fixed lines = 15:1 mobile penetration at 33% in 2008 fastest growing market in the world 3
  4. Zambia 4
  5. 1) South Africa Opera Mini (April 2009) 2) Nigeria 3) Egypt 4) Kenya 5) Libya 6) Zambia 7) Tanzania 8) Cote d’Ivoire 9) Mozambique 10)Namibia 11)Ghana 12)Gabon 5
  6. Merryl Ford (2009) “the cellphone is poised to become the 'PC of Africa'” 6
  7. mlearning examples tutoring 7
  8. 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! 8
  9. Dr Maths architecture 9
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  12. 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: Excellent. 12
  13. mlearning examples games 13
  14. Dr Math competitions  Addition  Subtraction  Multiplication  Division  BODMAS  Prime factors of a number  Root of a straight line  Intersection of two straight lines  Factors of a quadratic  Real roots of a quadratic 14
  15. Dr Math results  Learners would compete for many times a day  Learners would regularly come back to defend his or her title  Learners often did hundreds of calculations to maintain their title as champion  Learners often competed until the early hours of the morning  Learners often changed their Mxit alias (or nick name) to more socially acceptable names after they won 15
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  17. M4Girls project  Improve maths in grade 10 rural girls (by Mindset / Nokia)  Nokia 6300's loaded with: − 43 mini videos, 3 “mobisode” animations, 2 games 17
  18. mlearning examples quizzes 18
  19. “Imfundo Yami/Yethu”  Nokia / MXit  Improve high school maths through drill-and-practise quizzes  Support through Dr Maths chat tutoring  Teach by day, quiz by night 19
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  24. Mathematics Exercises MOODLE 24
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  30. “Imfundo Yami/Yethu”  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 maths  Learners were doing much more exercises than normally  Learners were studying maths A LOT after school hours 30
  31. mlearning examples peer support / advice 31
  32. Drug, abuse and debt counseling 32
  33. mlearning examples information dissemination 33
  34. Angels on MXit: HIV/AIDS info 34
  35. mlearning examples literacy development 35
  36. Reading/writing cellphone  Using the cellphone as a “book” delivery and authoring tool  Othello as an m-novel?  Effects of texting on literacy and language development? 36
  37. other mlearning location-based / examples context-aware activities, e.g. museum tours or just- in-time information 37
  38. Age of the Prosumer “Teens and Young Adults consider themselves more than just consumers and they want their chance to produce content and involve themselves in the brand more than ever before.” (Generation Next, 2009) 38
  39. But ...  Need to manage risks: − Distraction − “Cyberbullying” − Effects of TXTSPK on spelling/formal writing − Too much “screen time” − Inappropriate content − Privacy/safety  Costs, sustainability, inclusion, scale, equity, etc. 39
  40. what is mobile learners need information at night? learning? learners need to work in groups? what is the need? learners not motivated? learners don't have textbooks? teachers are over-worked – need support? not enough PCs? no stable electricity? 40
  41. what is mobile learners are connected learning? learners are mobile within reach (socially, economically or geographically) examples: tutoring, games, quizzes, peer-support, information dissemination, literacy development, location awareness think beyond the computer lab not either PC or cellphone, use appropriate technology 41
  42. Thank you email: twitter: blog: slides: web:
  43. mLearning Africa News, projects and research about mobile learning in Africa Contact: 43

Editor's Notes

  1. It's mobile Online access: 1bn (source: )‏ Mobile access: 4bn (source: ) Image of mobile phone by CC-BY-SA-2.0
  2. Source: Merryl Ford, Meraka, Presentation given at SAFIPA Conference, Pretoria, 8-10 July 2009
  3. Source: World Bank (2006). Information and Communications for Development: Global Trends and Policies 2006.
  4. Source:
  5. Quote taken from Merryl Ford's presentation “ Dr Math – A mobile tutoring platform for Africa?” at the SAFIPA conference, Pretoria, 8-10 June 2009
  6. Source: Laurie Butgereit.
  7. Source: Laurie Butgereit.
  8. Source: Adele Botha.
  9. This is conversation between a university tutor and grade 7 learner, happening via mobile instant messaging. See: 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.
  10. 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
  11. Source: Merryl Ford's presentation “ Dr Math – A mobile tutoring platform for Africa?” at the SAFIPA conference, Pretoria, 8-10 June 2009
  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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)‏
  15. The principal at the school. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)‏
  16. One of the teachers at the school. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)‏
  17. Computers were donated to the school, but are not being used. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)‏
  18. Diagram by Adele Botha. Images courtesy of Riitta Vänskä (Nokia) / Lucky Masilela (NSN)‏
  19. Screenshots of the Imfundo Yami/Yethu Moodle web back-end system
  20. 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
  21. Courtesy of Marlon Parker. See
  22. Another Marlon Parker project in Cape Town
  23. 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:
  24. For an interesting viewpoint on TXTSPK, read 2b or not 2b? by David Crystal: 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.