How effective are mobile phones in improving the quality of teacher education and early grade reading and literacy?

I, on behalf of the Department of Educational Communication and Technology (COMTECH) of the University of Nairobi, will provide a detailed explanation of how COMTECH is improving the quality of teacher education in Kenya through mobile telephony around early grade reading and literacy. Specifically, I will address the following question: How effective are mobile phones in improving the quality of teacher education and early grade reading and literacy?
In answering this question I will outline the successes and challenges we have experienced in reaching out to our early grade teachers. I will share quotes send back and forth through the Short Message Service (SMS) including: reminding teachers to read aloud to their learners daily; challenging the teachers to try out a new strategy and to report back their experiences or just encouraging them to keep going on even in the face of pedagogical difficulties. I will end my presentation with insightful comments teachers have made about the on-going support they receive from COMTECH. I will need the audience to share with me realistic strategies that can be used to support teachers “at a distance” in situations with minimal or no access to electric power and instructional materials and resources.

Dr Hellen N. Inyega

Dr. Hellen Inyega is language and literacy education lecturer, Department of Educational Communication and Technology - University of Nairobi. She holds a PhD in Reading Education from the University of Georgia, USA.

Since her graduation in 2006, Dr. Inyega has actively and consistently evaluated and provided technical support to literacy projects across Africa. She has designed and developed early grade reading instructional materials and assessments.

Dr. Inyega a member of International Reading Association and Multi-Lingual Education Network (MLEN) - groups that advocate for life-long and life-wide reading as well as on the benefit of using mother tongue as the language of instruction.

Dr. Inyega has published in peer-review journals and won literacy awards including Lamson Prize in Child Language and Literacy and Nila Banton Smith Research Dissemination Grant. Most recently (September 2012), she (and her colleagues) got a USAID All Children Reading grant to develop, pilot and implement Early Grade Reading Instruction Curriculum for pre-service teachers at the University of Nairobi.  Dr. Inyega remains committed to providing direction on reading education development in Africa. She is president of Association of Reading of Kenya that hosts 8th Pan African Reading for All Conference from 12th to 16th August 2013 in Nairobi.

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