Mobile Phones Are Not Just Phones

I came across an article that discusses the use of mobile phones as an education supplement in developing communities. While it refers specifically to India, its principles are applicable globally. In addition to using phones to aid education, agriculture, and healthcare, mobile devices can potentially be an information platform and portal for aiding business, resource use, and countless other possiblities.


Viewed simply; phones are capable of:

1. Voice – These are the most basic phones, are still prevalent though being rapidly replaced. Such phones with voice only technology can be used to learn languages, literature, public speaking, writing, storytelling, and history amongst a whole range of topics. We’ve known that voice based learning works for millennia now.

2. SMS – Widely used in India, literally billions of short text messages are sent over the phone networks. These messages can be written quickly and offer enormous learning opportunities. SMS can be used to provide just in time information of almost any type, like reminders. (e.g., someone undergoing a formal mentoring process) SMS can be used for informational quizzes. There are also innovative games based around SMS that have strong learning potential.

3. Graphic Displays – Almost every mobile phone has a graphic display, even if it just shows signal and battery strength. Most phones today have far more graphic power and are able to display words, pictures and animation. Such screens also allow for meaningful amounts of text to be displayed, supporting rapid serial presentation of context-appropriate information. You can use this type of displays for almost any sort of learning. Eventually these displays will render content that is today rendered on personal computers.

4. Downloadable programs – With mobile phones that have memories, and can accept and install downloaded programs an entire new learning space is opened up on the phone. Almost any sort of learning content and interaction technology can be delivered to the phone using this method.

5. Mobile Internet Browsers – Internet browsers are now built into an increasing number of phones, especially those that take advantage of 3G or enhanced data networks such as GPRS. Having a browser on the phone opens up all the learning resources available on the web, including Google, LMS applications, typical eLearning courseware and other tools/applications.

Posted by Will Tang

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