UNESCO Mobile Learning Week: innovation showcases (I)

MLW 2014This is my second time at Mobile Learning Week, the flagship annual UNESCO conference on mobile technologies and education. The theme of Mobile Learning Week (MLW) 2014 is teachers.

Mobile media is not just cool or informal technology for non-formal learning, but is also being integrated into formal educational institutions. Mobiles are being used in various configurations: teacher-student interaction, student-student collaboration, capacity building for teachers, academic publisher platforms, and so on.

Mobiles for Learning is one of a range of UNESCO initiatives which include Women and Girls Education Gender Equality, Skills for Work and Life to guarantee employability, and Inclusive ICTs.

Here are some interesting innovations that were showcased on the first day of MLW 2014.

Eneza Education, Kenya

In Kiswahili, “eneza” means “to reach” or “to spread.” Eneza (originally called mPrep) is a mobile assistant for teachers that gives schools and parents access to solutions such as quizzing platforms, performance dashboards and tips for helping their students. Through SMS or the Web, students can receive educational content, browse through Wikipedia, and ask teachers questions. The platform can improve student engagement and increase their scores. Nokia, SafariCom and GSMA were involved as partners.

Ustad Mobile, Afghanistan

Ustad Mobile (Mobile Teacher) is a mobile course creation tool developed in Afghanistan. The open source toolkit has already been used by policewomen in Afghanistan to develop literacy courses in local languages. Smartphones or feature phones can be used to access the content, developed by instructors on computers. The software is a free download, and can be used to design quizzes, multiple choice questions, math drills and so on. Instructors can use the cloud reporting tool for real time access to detailed reports on effort and performance. The tool has been created by Paiwastoon, an Afghan-international ICT firm headed by UK tech entrepreneur Mike Dawson.

One2Act Mobile Feedback, Norway

Mobiles can be used to get realtime feedback from learners’ devices using One2Act, allowing teachers to provide rapid and customised feedback to learners. Teachers get an instant dashboard of the students` understanding of the topic covered, using this to increase classroom interaction, group collaboration, and peer learning as a springboard for reflection and discussion. Offerings include Peer Learning Assessment System (PELE), a mobile-based voting system.

TBR Mobilisation & Emerging Technology, Tennessee

This research and resource project from Tennessee showcases what is possible in the ‘m-campus’ with social networking and mobile devices enabling gaming, simulations and virtual worlds. These can be used to increase recruiting, retention, graduation rates; to improve teaching, learning, and workforce development; and for meeting the needs of 21st century workforces. The site features examples of student digital art, augmented reality apps and infographics of student use of mobiles on campuses.

OER4Schools Programme

OER4Schools is a Commonwealth professional development programme for low-resourced primary schools. Interactive teaching of mathematics and science is supported with digital technology. The programme is freely available as an Open Educational Resource (OER) and builds on an established teacher-led process for sharing and reflection. Uses include lesson pacing and effective questioning. Interactive teaching is possible with and without ICT.

A range of other initiatives, organisations and awards were also discussed and referenced at MWL 2014:

EduLoc location-based project tool

Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE)

ICT for Rural Education Development

Open Education Europa

Mobiles for Education alliance

World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning

I will be sharing some other examples of emerging innovations on Day Three of the event, especially those that have been showcased in a range of awards recognising mobile startups and developers in education and learning: MobileMonday global awardsWSA Mobile Awards, mBillionth South Asia Awards and YourStory EduStars.


Madanmohan Rao

Madanmohan Rao

Madanmohan Rao is research director at YourStory Media and editor of five book series (http://amzn.to/NpHAoE). His interests include creativity, innovation, knowledge management, and digital media. Madan is also a DJ and writer on world music and jazz. He can be followed on Twitter at @MadanRao