World Bank to study "The Use of Mobile Phones in Education"

Posted by KatrinVerclas on Aug 10, 2009

There is a hot debate about whether the mobile phone or the computer is the tool of choice in education, especially in developing countries. And as valid that conversation is right now, we know, as a field, precious little about how mobiles are being used for education in developing countries.

A new World Bank landscape analysis of this emerging field of m-education is now trying to shed light on the question:  How are phones used for education purposes inside or outside of classrooms in developing countries? How well are these projects faring?

Spearheaded by Michael Trucano, an education specialist within the Bank, and supported by the Korean ICT Trust Fund, the study hopes to provide:

"guidance for World Bank technical assistance and investment activities related to the much-hyped potential for the use of mobile phones in education."

As readers of this site know, mobile penetration in Africa is skyrocketing and is one of the fastest growing in the world.  28% of Africans now have a mobile phone subscription, according to data released by the ITU early 2009. As Tino Kreutzer, a member of the MobileActive network has pointed out in his research, mobile growth is happening not just among the adult population, but among young people just as rapidly, at least in South Africa.

So what is Michael and his team going to study? 

  1. Map the existing universe of projects and initiatives exploring the use of mobile phones in education, with a specific attention to developing countries.
  2. Map the existing and potential uses of mobile phones in this regard, comparing and contrasting such uses with other ICT devices, relevant to specific education challenges, needs and contexts found in a number of developing countries
  3. Document lessons learned so far from key initiatives in this area, proposing tentative guidance for policymakers and various stakeholder groups in this fast moving area.
  4. Propose a conceptual framework and way forward for further analytical work to aid in the documentation and rigorous impact cost and impact assessment of the use of mobile phones in education.

Updates on this project will be posted periodically on the World Bank's ICT and Education blog, EduTech, and input is welcome there from members of the community.

We welcome this research, especially as it is going to provide good models for field analyses in other areas where that ius much needed.  We also hope that actual use studies and insights of how young people educators, and schools are using mobile tech, the gaps, and the potential for applications, projects, and policy will be explored, with a strong emphasis on innovation within countries rather than through Western development agencies. This work is much needed in the mobile field and we will keep a close eye on the findings. 

Photo courtesy Tino Kreutzer


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br> <b><i><blockquote>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

More information about formatting options