Why not go for big impact? Experiences from a mobile learning partnership between the British Council and Nokia

Mr Antti Karjalainen and Ms Sanna Eskelinen  | Presentation (PDF)

GSMA, British Council, Nokia



Our presentation presents evidence gathered and experience gained via Nokia Life+ Learn English Service to make a case for a large scale teacher intervention in South Asia. Thus, the presentation will be in two parts: 

Part One will present the impact of the Learn English service built together with British Council and Nokia. We will focus on presenting the service, its impact and delivery methods. The British Council produced and tailored the content and Nokia provided the channel of delivery. It was available in 20 countries, including India and Pakistan. The service delivered structured content on three different levels 6 days a week with an additional quiz. The delivery was done through Nokia browser into handsets that had the browser pre-installed. The end users paid for data consumption only and the cost of the actual service was carried by Nokia and the British Council. In a very short period of time from March 2013-July 2013, the service reached over half a million users. With the case example we like to highlight two things: firstly, that with mobile learning scale should be a given factor. Mobiles are in the hands of billions of people and this existing infrastructure does not require scaling up – all we need to do is to leverage it! Secondly, that it is possible to distribute content and engage end users directly if they have access to data – the possibilities this gives are endless! 

In the second part of our presentation we would like to make a case for a large scale teacher service along the parameters set out above. The need for English language intervention amongst teacher population in South Asia is very high. It is motivated by two factors: one comes from children and parents and the second one comes from governments. The first is driven by the perception of English as a vehicle for social mobility and the second comes from the demand that English should be the medium of instruction from relatively early grades onwards. Thus, the need amongst teachers is imminent. There is also the additional challenge, particularly pertinent to be solved through mobile, which is that rural schools and rural segments of population are particularly hard to reach by a face to face intervention but there is evidence from other interventions that they could be reached through variety of mobile technologies. 

However, what is important here is that the example above from Learn English service shows that for instance the intervention to teachers that we have canvassed can be solved, or at least the solution can be strongly supported, by mobile, and it can and should be, done in scale. 


Sanna Eskelinen is the Global Lead for Social Solutions at Nokia focusing on the use of mobile technology for development. Sanna works with different industry players to develop solutions in the area of education. Examples of her current initiatives include Nokia Mobile Mathematics (momaths.nokia.com) and Nokia Data Gathering (www.nokiadatagathering.net). In addition to driving specific technology programs, Sanna looks after Nokia’s Social Solutions portfolio and new innovations and actively participates in industry initiatives that bring internet closer to the next billion. 

Antti Karjalainen leads on strategic partnerships for the British Council in Europe. The focus of these partnerships is predominantly in digital and mobile technology space. The key strategy underpinning the partnerships work in the British Council is in delivering innovative services at large scale through sustainable business models. This is done in partnership with telecommunication companies, national governments and trust and foundations.

 Antti has been in the British Council for three years. He started in the British Council as the Director Finland. Prior to that he run a social enterprise in Finland, has worked for an educational think-tank in the UK and for a Finnish Cultural Relations organization, The Finnish Institute in London. Antti holds a PhD from Bristol University and is a fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).


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