M-learning has a crucial role to play in improving the education and life prospects of young people in developing countries, a new report has found. ‘Shaping the future – realising the potential of informal learning through mobile’ is a study carried out by the GSMA mobile industry body which was published at last month’s eLearning Africa conference.
Research was carried out across Ghana, Morocco, Uganda and India with a remit to understand how mobile technology can help young people in developing countries to achieve their future aspirations. Mobile technology has exploded in these parts of the world, now accounting for four in every five connections worldwide. Mobile phones are already being used above and beyond traditional communication purposes, supporting activities such as banking and access to health information.
Education is one of the biggest priorities for the young people surveyed, with only family and health being named as more important issues. But many live in isolated areas or are unable to access the resources they need to improve their skills and fulfil their potential.
M-learning, in a variety of different forms, can help to overcome these geographic and economic boundaries. Due to the high cost, the majority of mobile phones in developing countries are not smart phones. However, the research demonstrates that mobile learning does not have to be e-learning squashed onto a phone. One girl from India describes how she uses her mobile to support her studies, ‘In class, I sometimes record the lectures on my phone so I can listen to them later in case I forget or don’t understand. I can use the calculator to help me with my maths too.’
GSMA are confident that m-learning will continue to grow, with the results of the study exceeding expectations around the penetration of mobile technologies and their use in learning on a global scale. The report concludes that ‘the time is right for the mobile industry, international development community and Governments to collaborate and create services that will have a profound, lifelong impact on the lives of young people.’
The full report can be found here.