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13 years ago @ Educational Technology... - Computers are More Ca... · 0 replies · +1 points

The advantage of computers is their complexity. They are complex and use complex applications that allow teachers and students to work on complex projects in science, math, etc. More often this advantage is hurting computers in education as complex applications require complex training. Teachers, both in developed and developing countries are not learning fast how to use these complex applications, student are.

I understood from my own experience that people at the very "bottom of the pyramid" do not require complex applications to get out of the extreme poverty. They need very easy-to-use and familiar tools that do not require them to spend more of their Adenosine Triphosphate while thinking. They are hungry. That is why in Sub Saharan Africa for example, many computer users use the word "plug and play" referring to a software or hardware that is easy to use. The wizard. Developing countries need a "plug and play" system. Whether a software, hardware, book or training manuals, all this must be very easy to understand. Computers do not often offer that, mobile phones does. Still, mobile phone is not a better learning tool than computer.

My point is this, while implementing ICT and Education policies in developing countries, policy makers should know that not any policy can be used at any level of poverty. Many people, including myself, have started using computer at age 20. Some in my village in the North-Kivu, DR Congo, never even saw a computer before, but have mobile phones in their hands every day. It requires a huge effort and sacrifice to catch up with many other people of your age in other parts of the world. On top of that, when you are 20, you have other important problems you need to solve in that particular moment of your life in order to survive: find money to finance your school, have clothes, a 1-bed studio, a girlfriend and you have to move in a big city to find more opportunities. All people of the above profile need is a machine easy-to-use that can help them learning while thinking how to solve other problems. it is only after you pass this stage of struggling to catch up that you will be able to think of other application, some of them can be complex.

Computers are more capable than mobile phones for many reasons as Dr. Kozma cited above. This is true when applied to a population that already has a basic or broad knowledge in mathematics and sciences, know how to use econometric analysis to analyze data or know the existence of websites. It is true for students or professors who are ready to solve real world problem. Not for people who are struggling to solve their everyday problem in their community in order to survive. Those are billions on earth.

For students and teachers, mobile phone applications are easy to use and do not require a complex training. Neither teachers nor students in Africa read the entire manual that come with a Nokia before they turn it on and start learning by them selves the usage. That is the power of mobile phone. For computer applications, governments and other local institutions need foreign aid in order to start learning how to build a basic website for schools with Joomla or SPIP. Then we have to think of corruption and bad governance after receiving the money for training.

While using the power of computer to solve complex problems in some part of the developing world, some other part of the same world might a "plug and Play" solution to solve very simple but vital problem in their communities. When we put all these solutions together, we might have a chance to prepare millions of people, from different layers of poverty, for a better life in the 21st century.

13 years ago @ Educational Technology... - Mobile Phones: Better ... · 0 replies · +2 points

Yes and No.

It is true that there is a high growth rate for mobile phone subscribers in developing countries, but the mobile network coverage on the continent averages ~15% stills the lowest in the world. It is also more important to know that there is a severe variation in countries and also in terms of urban versus rural areas.
Although there is an increase in terms of mobile phone owners in developing world, and in Africa in particular, not everyone own a smart phone, just because not many schools or other educational institutions can afford it.
Mobile phones are already having tremendous impact both in education, health and other economic and social development areas in developing countries but there are not yet at the stage that we can start thinking that they are better learning tools than computers.

There are many problems that m-Education compare to let say e-Education in developing countries like the short life of a battery, the size of the screen (refer to Mike Trucano) that make it just really difficult to access important applications that can help to improve efficiency for teachers or students in schools. Even in the USA it is rare, if not very rare, to see a university Professor accessing BlackBoard applications through his blackberry because of the limitation with the web browsers on most mobile phones that cannot support the javascript and java that Blackboard uses. Now don't get me wrong, that was in September 2008 in the USA. Investment in available electricity and other clean energies is also very important as the lack of power stills a problem in many developing countries. My younger brother, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (the country of INGA 1, 2 and 3), is almost inaccessible through his mobile phone 5 out of 7 days a week because of the electricity, he is always "low-batt". Think about it. 5 out of 7 for a school.

There is a hope for mobile phone to have an impact Education in developing countries. The biggest beneficiaries of these technologies will be students, not really teachers, because the youth tend to learn fast when it come to technology-related applications and devices. This gives me an idea of reverse capacity building: When will students start teaching their teachers? We should think about this and not limit students’ capacity to share their knowledge. There are millions of kids who can help their teachers in how to use technology-related devices and applications. This can also be applied also for parents and their kids in urban and rural areas.

I would like to know what is the size of mobile phone open source. I know that Google G1 is quite open and might be the only one. But I do not know at which extend. We should start promoting more development of more education-oriented mobile phone open source application now in anticipation of the need that could occur in the near future.