From mountains to markets: Putting the ‘mobile’ in mobile learning through teacher professional development for non-formal education in the Philippines

Ms Stephanie Orlino | Presentation (PDF)

Smart Communications, Inc.


Traditionally, non-formal education has been used to support learners who have left formal education. The goal of such instruction is to help these learners access education at a time and a place that is convenient to them. In the Philippines, facilitating education on demand and at the convenience of learners has been led by the Department of Education’s Bureau of Alternative Learning System (BALS). Now, with the support of Smart Communications, these efforts have recently gone mobile – in two senses. 

BALS trains 6,000 teachers who traverse the varied terrain in the Philippines to go where the students are—in the mountains, isolated sitios, public markets or barangay centers. This program is intentionally mobile in nature since BALS teachers are empowered to take the classroom to non-traditional settings in order to provide equitable access to education for Filipino out-of-school youths (aged 15-35) and adults, providing these learners with the opportunity to complete their primary and secondary school certificates through an equivalency program. With the addition of the Smart mobile ALS (Alternative Learning System) app, the jobs of the ‘mobile teachers’ are being made a bit easier and doubly mobile.

Because the BALS teachers are on the go, having all their teaching materials in a tablet lightens their load instead of having to carry around a lot of books and other teaching paraphernalia when they go to their students. Additionally, they are able to make use of teaching aids that bring learning to life, helping to make their mobile classroom students more effective for learners that are much harder to reach than those in the formal education system. 

The ALS app for teachers, developed by Smart Communications in close coordination with the Department of Education’s BALS team, is complemented by the Smart Infoboard service, a web-based messaging platform that allows accurate and fast transmission of circulars and other announcements from the head office to the mobile teachers who are spread all over the archipelago via SMS on their mobile phones. This helps to keep a stronger link between the mobile teachers and BALS in Manila.

In this presentation, we will share an overview of how mobile learning has been integrated into a non-formal learning environment, and how a mobile app has been used to support professional development. The aim is to build understanding of how mobile technologies have helped enable mobile teachers reach the underserved and support their work with non-traditional students. A demonstration of the app will be shared with the audience for feedback and discussion of how this app and Infoboard service might be adapted to their contexts.



Stephanie has been in community development work – spanning project design and implementation, stakeholder engagement, government relations, employee volunteerism, impact measurement and marketing and publicity -- for the past 14 years. The last 10 years have been spent crafting and implementing sustainable, community-based education programs for Smart.

Her programs and projects have been recognized by both local and international award-giving institutions for its impact on the base-of-the-pyramid communities being served. 

Stephanie was responsible for the implementation of a nationwide school 'broadbanding' Program where more than 300 government primary and secondary schools gained access to low-cost connectivity, capability-building initiatives and ICT content. 

Another key initiative is the first-of-its-kind industry-academe linkage program with 44 tertiary schools all over the country whose goal is to assist schools in producing industry-ready IT and Engineering graduates via access to telco equipment, transfer of knowledge, administrative support and access to an innovations platform that can bring school-developed wireless applications to commercial products. 

Presently, Stephanie is laying the groundwork for the creation of mobile education models that demonstrate the use of and benefits to be gained from mobile devices in learning in various contexts: to enable and expand livelihood opportunities of persons with disabilities, to boost learning of indigent pre-school children in government schools and to facilitate literacy learning of adults in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.



Twitter: @SMARTCares 


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