effects of smartphones on education.docx

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March – 2010 Using Mobile Phones to Improve Educational Outcomes: An Analysis of Evidence from Asia John-Harmen Valk, Ahmed T. Rashid , and Laurent Elder Pan Asia Networking, IDRC, Canada Abstract Despite improvements in educational indicators, such as enrolment, significant challenges remain with regard to the delivery of quality education in developing countries, particularly in rural and remote regions. In the attempt to find viable solutions to these challenges, much hope has been placed in new information and communication technologies (ICTs), mobile phones being one example. This article reviews the evidence of the role of mobile phone-facilitated mLearning in contributing to improved educational outcomes in the developing countries of Asia by exploring the results of six mLearning pilot projects that took place in the Philippines, Mongolia, Thailand, India, and Bangladesh. In particular, this article examines the extent to which the use of mobile phones helped to improve educational outcomes in two specific ways: 1) in improving access to education, and 2) in promoting new learning . Analysis of the projects indicates that while there is important evidence of mobile phones facilitating increased access, much less evidence exists as to how mobiles promote new learning. Keywords : Mobile phones; mobile learning; distance learning; educational outcomes; information and communication technologies; new learning Introduction For quite some time, the international development community has emphasized the paramount role of education in bringing about sustainable socio-economic development in the South. Goal 2 of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aims to achieve universal primary education for children everywhere, boys and girls alike, by 2015. Significant challenges remain, however. For example, in southern Asia the enrolment ratio has reached 90%, but there still remain more than 18 million children of primary school age who are not enrolled. Similar challenges confront secondary and tertiary education. In developing countries, on average, only 54% of children of the appropriate age attend secondary school currently (UN, 2008, pp. 13-14). Additionally, more than one-third of the world’s adult population – most living in the developing world – has no access to printed knowledge, new skills, and technologies that could improve the quality of their lives (Dhanarajan, 2009, p. 46). Inequalities in access to education continue to
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pose major barriers in the developing world, and the delivery of cost-effective and quality education remains a persistent problem. In the attempt to find viable solutions to these problems, much hope has been placed in new information and communication technologies (ICTs). It is believed that ICTs can empower teachers and learners by facilitating communication and interaction, offering new modes of delivery, and generally transforming teaching and learning processes. Of the many different forms of ICTs, mobile phones are thought, for several reasons, to be a particularly suitable tool for advancing education in developing regions. First, mobiles phones are the most prevalent ICT
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