Leslie Dodson from the University of Colorado on The mobile utitly gap and literacy challenges in oral-language communities: sms use by Berber women.
These are my live blognotes coming from UNESCO's mobile learning week enriched with tweets from Ronda (@glam_mobileleo).
Leslie used an epigraphic research approach and working in the field for 8 to 9 months.
For those interested in the number of challenges that can be encountered when diving into a mLearning project with very specific target learners... this is it!
conventional wisdom assumes
- women with mobile phones can text
- illiterate women and numeration
- mobiles obscure gender
this is not the case
- many women are only able to use expensive voice services
- functions that rely on counting or nubmer sequences are confusing
- cultural restrictions on communication between men and women extend to mobiles
These issues are bigger than a community of Berber women (approx. 500 billion women are illiterate)
Population: women and work
- Berber communities: tribal, traditional, Muslim, conservative, rural, arid and poor.
- Women lack formal education
- women's livelihoods are tied to the Argan tree (oil production, or as a home lifelyhood).
- simple, broken, secndhand, counterfeit phones
- few smart phones
- relatively broad network coverage and available power
the goal of the project
- expand the use f available mobile phones for personal and instrubmental communicatoin
- explore the challenges of moving from oral communication (speaking and calling) to texting in a non-text based community
- avoid a formal educational approach because of shame and fear
A complex language environment
2 spoken dialects
Darija: an amagamation of Arabic, French and Spanish words
Tachelhit: one of numerous Berber dialect
2 official written and spoken languages
Modern Standard Arabic and French
3 alphabets: Arabic, Latin script, Tifinagh script (Glyph-based, not widely used).
The texting utility gap
due to the complex literacy and language environment, women's mobile use is basic ("What is literacy when u have 2 spoken dialects?")
they are unable to benefit fro many phone features ("My phone only speaks
they face socio-cultural and psycho-dynamic deterrents to learning
illiterate women are paying a tech tax because they cannot text
they are forgoing service benefits
- unable to take advantage of mobile bonuses
- cannot access development initiatives
- missing out on training opportunities
coping strategies: high visual literacy
- many users identify words and numbers as visual packets of information (Berber women in
#Morocco use small pieces of paper to identify words/numbers on phones)
- they rely on pattern recognition to identify phone numbers
- they memorize keypad sequences
- they use paper to assist in phone use
- they identify contacts with icons, names and numbers
- they rely on scribes
- informal education
- situated learning
- adult women get to choose the literacy they want
- highly motivated to learn latin alphabet
- the mobile provides the alphabet at their fingertips
- multimedia use ("Multimedia includes chalkboards, alongside other tools we use..." )