2.2.3 Use of mobile handsets in education
There have been several pilot projects to incorporate mobile handsets into classroom learning environments. Such projects have focused on engaging students with their current lessons, as well as activities like conducting student assessments.
One such project is called Seeds of Empowerment. An outgrowth of a research project at Stanford University in the United States, it aims to increase access to basic education for children living in extremely marginalized communities around the world. 53 Researchers partner with local organizations to provide mobile devices to students and schools. Seeds of Empowerment projects were launched in 2008 in Argentina, Mexico, and El Salvador, and additional projects were anticipated in Bolivia, Brazil and Uruguay in 2012. Early Seeds of Empowerment projects provided students with a purpose-designed device called a TeacherMate, but later projects have used smartphones with Android or iOS operating systems. The smartphones provide access to an educational platform called the Stanford Mobile Inquiry-based Learning Environment (SMILE), which allows students to perform self-evaluations and peer assessments.
In 2011, Paraguay’s Ministry of Education launched the Learning Assessment through Mobile Phones (LAMP) pilot project to explore how to administer standardized tests through mobile phones. 54 The project, which focused on mathematics and Spanish language and literature, addressed key content areas of the national curriculum for secondary school students. The project also included training for teachers and school directors to help students prepare and to provide them with technical support. The use of text messaging as the medium for students to receive and respond to multiple-choice questions enabled the responses to be uploaded directly to the Ministry of Education’s database, increasing the speed for processing test results. The results of the project, as well as an evaluation of its methods, will be included in a future report to be published by the Ministry of Education.