Friday, 10 August 2012

#UNESCO is looking for your #mLearning policy ideas !

The driven Steve Vosloo, who is currently the UNESCO Programme Specialist in Mobile Learning at UNESCO has put together a set of guidelines for mLearning policy. These guidelines are now open for public review, so grab your chance and add any ideas, suggestions you might have by either posting your comments with the 'postreply' button on the webpage here which will get you (after registering) to the UNESCO discussion boards or e-mailing to

When reviewing the guidelines please keep their purpose in mind:
• To raise awareness, put mobile learning onto the ICT in Education agenda.
• To promote the value of mobile learning, and consider related challenges.
• To make high-level recommendations for creating policies that enable mobile learning.

All input is valuable and considered for inclusion by the Advisory Team assigned to the task of developing the policy guidelines. Please note, however, that it is not possible to include all input (informed by the UNESCO team).

You can download DRAFT UNESCO Policy Guidelines on Mobile Learning v2 (13 pages, references and content table included).: (PDF, 500KB)

My two cents: general comments and policy guideline comments:

General comments (policy comments follow below)

In the section: build new communities of students: with regard to open, online courses, three major online sites are mentioned: Coursera, Udacity and edX, but they are all N-America driven. And resulting from that there is a predominant teaching/learning format connected to those platforms. This does not embrace culturally related, nor digital illiterate or challenged target groups (of any region). If you look at the courses that are provided, the content is also more high-brow: nothing on vocational level, or getting to grips with the crisis etcetera. The courses are clearly aimed at educated people, as such not that relevant for all the UNESCO target groups.  A screening of the background of the students enrolled in these course platforms will be of interest.

The focus on 'student': throughout the report there is a focus on the word 'student' which seems to have the classic profile of a younger person within a schooling system. However, the examples mentioned are much less traditional student profiles, so it feels like a discrepancy. I would move from 'student' to 'learner' as this is a much broader definition and not pinned on school system learners. Educational change does not happen in the school alone, this is a societal change, one that embraces families to enhance their relevant knowledge, collaboratively learning, not just the youngsters in a family.

One pedagogy for all: when going through the guidelines, I had the feeling that apart from the
In my view their should be a flexibility or a guideline linking traditional learning/teaching with contemporary regional teaching/learning. Each region has a long-lasting culture of learning/teaching, some more collaboratively oriented, some more one-on-one mentor type (Indian guru), some more oral (les griots), other textual (monk teachings), some learning from elders (indigenous people), some learning via discussions (old theological schools)... it would be of interest to give those other pedagogies a place within the new learning formats. Culture is rooted deeply in all of us, learning-to-learn is affected by these cultures and backgrounds and as such new learning should be flexible to different pedagogical formats.When looking at local mLearning projects, many of them worked because they fitted the locally reigning pedagogy or hierarchy of learning.

Policy comments

Link mLearning policies with the predominant, as well as the traditional pedagogies or learning methods used in your own region.

In the section gender equality
It is not enough to 'get women and girls involved', the content of courses, and the dynamics of mLearning courses should be addressing gender preferenced content. Adding active female characters in the examples, ensuring women visibility both in text and visuals. Similar addressing local gender issues and representing them to enable learners to connect with the material on a cultural level as well.

Cultural identity
The risk of providing content for the masses, is that identities get lost and that only the societal, predominant identity is represented in both the texts, as in the visual material of the course content. This has a profound effect on learning, as identification is connected to motivation and learning.
So similar to the above gender remark, content should be diversified or - when targeting a specific region - specified to enable identification and empowerment.

Educate people (community leaders) in mobile literacy
Train community leaders in mobile literacy: linking to an above comment: all members of a community benefit with understanding the importance of getting educated, getting digitally literate to enhance personal and family empowerment. Training the trainers is one part, but getting everyone empowered is something else. Every age has wisdom, it is the sets of all these wisdoms that make a community, as such the wisdom of all should be enabled sharing via mobiles, and as such all of the community should be reached.

Listening to the learners as drivers for policy
Embedding participation from targeted learners into the policy development to decrease the digital divide between the policy makers and the targeted audiences. 

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