2.2.4 Educational benefits of mobile devices

Increasingly ubiquitous mobile devices, including feature phones, smartphones, and tablets, can help achieve a number of macro-level educational goals. Mobile phones have a 79 per cent penetration rate in the developing world (with a growing adoption rate for smartphones), 55 compared with the percentage of homes that have computers (only 25 per cent). 56

Mobile devices can provide a level of reach, scope and immediacy that is largely unattainable through traditional classroom environments. The most up-to-date content can be accessible immediately -- from anywhere -- and it can be repeatedly reviewed for better comprehension and understanding. The typical mobile learning (m-learning) student saves 86.7 per cent of the money spent for a student taking the same training through a traditional classroom. 57 Among the goals that can be addressed through the use of mobile devices are:

  • Access to education : By increasing access to education for all children, mobile devices can help achieve universal primary education and promote gender equality. According to the Global Campaign for Education, 69 million children worldwide still have no formal education, and 774 million adults cannot read or write. In addition, many young people considered educated have significant gaps in the quality of education they have received. Using mobile devices to increase access to education can help address each of these needs. Increased accessibility can provide rich educational opportunities for students who have traditionally lacked access to high-quality schooling. 58 Such students often include girls -- who may not be offered the same educational opportunities as their brothers or male neighbors -- as well as the disabled.

  • Skills instruction : Mobile devices can improve access to training and instruction, which can have a long-term, sustainable and positive impact by helping people attain decent and productive jobs.
  • Health education : Mobile devices can provide access to information necessary for preventing diseases and making informed health decisions. An e-learning initiative in Kenya, for example, upgraded nurses’ skills and increased the amount of registered nurses from 100 trained per year under traditional programmes to more than 1,300 per year in a short period of time. However, while only 20 per cent of those nurses had access to a computer, all had mobile devices. With a global shortage of 3.4 million health workers, m-learning seems like a logical tool to employ in addressing this gap. 59

55 Gaudry-Perkins, Florence and Lauren Dawes, “mLearning: A powerful tool for addressing MDGs,” MDG Review (April 2012), available at http://www.meducationalliance.org/sites/default/files/mlearning_article-mdg_review-alcatel-lucent-gsma-april_2012.pdf .

56 ITU, “The World in 2011: ICT Facts and Figures,” available at http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/facts/2011/material/ICTFactsFigures2011.pdf .

57 Dr. David Ngaruiya. Kenyan Faculty member of NIST, in an interview with David Rogers, University of Central Florida.

58 World Bank, “Surveying Mobile Learning Around the World (part one),” (May 29, 2012), available at http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/unesco-mobile-learning-series.

59 Gaudry-Perkins, Florence and Lauren Dawes, “mLearning: A powerful tool for addressing MDGs,” MDG Review (April 2012), available at http://www.meducationalliance.org/sites/default/files/mlearning_article-mdg_review-alcatel-lucent-gsma-april_2012.pdf .

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