Last month the World Bank launched an international initiative to study the use and the potential application of mobile phones in education in the developing world. The study, titled "The Use of Mobile Phones in Education in Developing Countries", plans to fill gaps in research that has until now focused on: (1) advocacy pieces about how phones *could* be used in education; (2) 'studies' of how phones have been used in a small pilot by one teacher somewhere; or (3) conceptual (often academic) discussions of the potential utility of mobile phones within various learning environments (often drawing on rich existing research into the use of PDAs for learning). (*As reported by the World Bank Development Blog) [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFWk6I2Huvw&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0] [Reader's note: The above YouTube clip showcases the Text2Teach program implemented in the Phillipines and is part of the larger BridgeIT program]
Through this initiative the World Bank plans to play a similar role in mobile education initiatives as it has in other mobile initiatives, namely mobile banking, using its institutional presence to make sense of existing, discreet initiatives and create opportunities for scalability, commercialization and gains in efficiency.
According to the World Bank's Edutech blog, the study intends to accomplish the following:
This study proposes to:
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.
The study will run through December of 2010. For now, I hope the folks at the World Bank make an effort to explore mobile applications specifically in continued education courses.