One small tool, one giant leap

5 May

Unfortunately, we have to admit that using Cell Phones as learning tools it is not as easy as it sounds.

All the different programs that are taking place using Cell Phones as the primarily tool gave me hope that this will continue.

I like to think that Cell Phones are this “Silver Bullet” that we were looking for to integrate and educate poor people that live in rural and/or isolated areas.

We can think that one of the biggest problems that this technology face is the electricity, but this issue is been addressed, by interesting and successful approaches that keep the Cell Phones working. One of this initiatives is Energy for Opportunity.

I keep believing in the Cell Phone as this fundamental developing tool after reading a study about ABC villages (remember the mliteracy program I mention in a previous post). The researchers discover that the method of teaching made a great difference but the “impact was context dependent.” The good thing is that in the same study researchers found that the students that attend the ABC program classes had better results after 6 month that the ones that have traditional teaching system.

Maybe it is not all about results, but learning how to read and write in a Cell Phone is will expand the horizons of those peoples and will bring them more knowledge, connectivity, maybe money and the opportunity to decide their on their own future.


The Sky’s the limit

30 Apr

And yes we are getting to the end of the project. I hope that this does not end here. I promise that each time that I found a new initiative using Cell Phone as a teaching literacy tool, I will posted on this page. Because we can forget the phone power!

So I want to open your eyes on how mobile technology can be used. As we n¡know Cell Phones are not just used to talk, so for learning is the same.

After learning to read and write using this technology, we have different initiatives that used the Cell Phone to help people that lives in isolated regions.

Some new programs developed are mHealth, mMoney and mAgriculture. As we already know the m is for mobile.

In the first one the Cell Phone is use to teach healthy habits and to keep doctors and patients more connected, especially for those who live in rural areas, far from medical facilities.

The money programs are used to make wire transfers without having to go to the bank.

Last but not least, is the agricultural programs. In Africa most of the people live from selling their crops and animals, with the help of Cell Phones they can know how much is the selling price and/or where is the best market to sell them.

As you can see there are as many initiatives using Cell Phone as ways that we can use it for.

If you are interested on this new and helpful initiatives you should attend or take a look to the Connected Africa Forum 2012

I am not the only one

25 Apr

Reading my blog you can feel that I am being to idealistic on the effectiveness of using cell phones as a learning tool.

I am well aware of the difficulties that these initiatives can faced as energy needs or economic reasons. This thoughts do not discourage me because I really believe that this devices can be used more than only to communicate people.

I just found a study that support all my positive support to this kind of initiatives. As the researchers said, and I agree, mobile phones are not “silver bullet” to address development issues but if you use them in the context of initiatives or under some conducted methods it is a really helpful tool to improves people quality of life.

The study called “Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa” it did not only talk about the learning initiatives, but it explain it usage in health, agricultural and other activities and how the cell phone helped to improve this conditions. Making the difficulties only a little bump on the road compare with it achievements.

If you want to read this investigation, click the picture:

All are invited

20 Apr

Learning how to read using a cell phone, when I was in school, mobiles were absolutely prohibited so, this sounds as my ideal class, and nothing makes me more excited that knowing that this is actually happening.

The idea of using cell phones born as a solution to teach isolated communities. Different initiatives had shown us that using mobile technologies to learn is successful. The major beneficiary of this is the people but we do not have to forget that after them, and very near, came the mobile companies.

I do not see nothing wrong on it, furthermore, I will encourage them to take part on this process. Teaching everybody using cell phones is good for the company, while making a big difference in the life of many people.

So this post is to encourage all cell phone companies to try to reach as many as possible “clients” so everybody can have the opportunity to learn how to read and the numbers, and turn this into knowledge to make their lives and the world a better place.

For all of you cell phone companies, here is an example on how Nokia is reaching a public that you are missing…

Just text? Come on!

18 Apr

Cell phones were created first as a substitute of the phone, then they introduced text and after that music, camera, apps and videos…

Learning is not about sitting and trying to understand letters and what they mean all together. You have to know when and how to use them. When you incorporate the knowledge to your daily life is when you realize how important or useful is what you just learned.

Based on that, BridgeIT developed a way of teaching using educational videos delivered to teachers through their cell phones. Isn’t that great? So you are not just studying letters, you are watching actual videos with daily life situation where what are you learning is being applied.

This videos are more than just learning, is helping teachers to make their classes more fun and introducing action to those learning sessions.

Learn more about this program taking place in Tanzania (among other countries like Chile 🙂 )

Never is too late

11 Apr

It looks like I am not too creative with my posts titles. Searching the web I just found a new program of teaching literacy using cell phones and the name is Project ABC Do you remember my post on March 28th?

Anyway I am so happy finding new projects, this one it is named after the acronym of Project Alphabetisation de Base par Cellulaire. The project is developed in Niger and it is specially focus on adult illiterate people.

This project combines in class teaching with a multimedia device that make the sounds of the letters. The students are taught Zarma, the local language were ABC sounds more like: “ah buh tchuh.”

After learning the basics of numbers and letters, groups of four people have to share a cell phone and they can practice the alphabet and what have been taught in the classes.

In this project the cell phone is used more like a homework or reminder tool so people can continue to practice even after class.


Knowledge for success

9 Apr

Sometimes being so enthusiastic about an idea or project, do not let you think if it is the best for your audience or if there exists better things or tools than yours.

I am really enthusiastic about the idea of using cell phones to teach literacy, it is fun, every time more accessible and I think this is just a first step to improve people’s life in more than a way.

I went to the launch of the book “Good Growth and Governance in Africa” and there were some Africa experts together.One of the editors of the book was Joseph Stiglitz and in his remarks he said something that really make me feel proud/relieve with my blog work.

He said that the only thing that Africa really needs is knowledge. Africans understand better than anyone they countries and what is better for them, but they need tools to organize and develop peace and stability to gain this growth and governance that the book talk about.

While I was thinking: “Yes, what a better tool to give them knowledge that teaching them how to write and read!” I am sure that this is one of the basics of the knowledge pyramid.

My only big concern with my project, is the very unnoticed problem with the minerals that are used on the cell phones. If you do not know anything about Conflict Minerals please take a minute and read the article and after that, be sure to support companies that are “Conflict Free“.