Thursday, 28 May 2009

#ela2009: Proof of concept for mLearning for formal education for mathematics in South-Africa

presented by Riitta Vänskä, Nokia Finland
info: Imfundo Yami/Yethu
(Riitta is a woman in black with short, blond hair, glasses and a Finnish, English accent)
Big desire to show how mobile phones can be used sustainably in developing countries. The mobile penetration in South Africa is very high.
What did they do?
Compare current technology uptake and access in South Africa. the school children were the audience, so they were taken in as participative audience that were incorporated from the beginning while the project was taking shape.
The students were already using mixt, so this mixt was linked to mathematics. Focus on mathematics grade 10 learners and grade 9 all exercises based (an sms solution).
The content was completely matching the curriculum.
audio and video clips were added
The Nokia people were not researchers, but based there project on common sense and with added remarks from researchers from South-Africa, like the people from the Meraka Institute.
So it was very user centered.
Extra: the competencies of all the students could more easily be monitored. So the exercises were added to a database for teachers to monitor.
So the teachers got a laptop and a sim-card, a modem and a budget.... (remark from myself: so how sustainable is this? because both budgets and hardware were given for this sole project)
260 students access it 14000 quizes done, 50000 accesses... so from the log files Nokia could see the students accessed the quizes 24 hours, all day/night long, so much more than only classroom.

My remark
: Riitta mentions that the teachers were ravingly enthusiastic, but of course because the project seems to have been done without research model, and linking it to the post of Ignatz mentioned before, it is not sure the teachers were not influence by the 'pressure' of being enthusiastic (see the post on evaluation ethics)
The ethical risks with mixt: students can use mixt, but it is not always clear who they are chatting with, but the government of SA is investigating mixt in an educational environment.
Will pick up on the MXit later.

(sorry about the blurry picture... need to wear my glasses all the time)


  1. Hi Ignatia, thanks for refering to this. The project has been really interesting and we will continue to the next phase soon. About the sustainability, yes you are right by sponsoring laptops for teacher and giving phones for children is not sustainable way. The first pilot was proof of concept and on next phase we will test shared phone philosophy and test how much teachers can do admin work also only with their phones. Some technology is needed at schools and we hope that schoolteachers have access to internet somehow. We most probably will not reach all schools in south africa with this model but hopefully this model could be usable in most of the schools. best regards Riitta Vänskä , Senior Manager, Mobile and Learning Solutions, Nokia CR&R

  2. hi Riitta,
    Looking forward to the next phase of the project!