Mobile Learning Week: from texbooks to telephone
What is the potential of using mobile telephones in education? This is the theme of an international experts' meeting and symposium organized by UNESCO at its Headquarters in Paris from 12 to 16 December 2011.
Some 90 percent of the world's seven billion people are now using mobile phones, according to the International Telecommunication Union.
In Africa the potential is huge. The region has become the world's second largest market for mobile phones. The number of mobile phones in Africa is now higher than in both Eastern and Western Europe.
In September 2011 the continent counted 620 million connections, according to the international association of mobile operators. It is expected to jump to 735 million next year.
Help countries to harness the potential
Organized in partnership with Nokia, The First UNESCO Mobile Learning Week contributes to UNESCO's work on policy guidelines to help countries harness the potential for education of the most world's most ubiquitous communication technology.
The meetings will provide insight into how mobile telephones can support teachers and their professional development while helping stakeholders share experiences and create international networks in this area.
The potential has been proved by a range of initiatives in Kenya, Mongolia, Mozambique, Niger, Pakistan and South Africa that have helped to:
- provide access to distance education for teachers,
- improve literacy among girls and women,
- motivate learners,
- nurture an interest in mathematics, and
- enhance school administration
Lack of national policies
Nevertheless, there are very few national policies directly related to mobile phones and learning and of those that do exist, many ban the use of mobile phones at schools.
Mobile Learning Week has been designed to help meet the need to develop enabling policies for mobile learning, which is the purpose of the Guidelines on Mobile Learning Policy UNESCO is expecting to release in late 2012.
Showcase recent developments
During the Symposium, Nokia, Pearson Foundation, SK Telecom, ISTE, iLearn4Free, ICTP, Microsoft, Commonwealth of Learning, Alcatel-Lucent, Orange, Intel, Education Alliance, Ericsson, and KERIS will showcase recent developments in mobile technologies and projects on mobile learning from the field in the Open UNESCO space.