4.1.2 The role of mobile operators and the private sector
Mobile operators serve a vital role in the provision of m-learning services by providing the connectivity that underpins such services. However, operators can take additional actions to further support increased access to educational content. For example, operators can offer discounted service fees for schools and educational institutions, or discounts for calling, SMS messages or data downloads of educational resources. Operators can also offer their expertise or network resources to assist in content aggregation and storage. Such resources can include webinars, podcasts, text recaps of lessons and educational video games. 131
By developing or improving their managed services capabilities to cater to the m-learning market, operators can enable the development of robust mobile education platforms. In addition, operators can take steps to ensure that students and other young users are protected from malicious activity or content – not only by adhering to existing regulations but by offering protections beyond those required by law. Mobile operators also have expertise in areas that could support and strengthen m-learning initiatives, including customer care, technical support, and device management. 132
For m-learning to positively affect education in a substantive way, educators and policymakers will need to forge new partnerships with industries and stakeholders that have not historically been involved in education, or whose core competency may lie outside educational fields. 133 For example, Qualcomm partnered with the ministries of education in Jordan and Singapore to bring 3G into the classroom.
The Jordan Education Initiative (JEI) is supporting a pilot project that in the fall of 2011 gave more than 200 students (grades 7-10) and 35 teachers at two schools 3G-enabled netbooks to conduct online research, complete multi-media presentations, and collaborate better. The netbooks have classroom management software allowing teachers to send and receive student assignments. Some teachers are creating their first email accounts and are learning how to communicate with other teachers and students using the Internet. 134 For this project, Qualcomm partnered with JEI, the Jordanian Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Information Communications Technology.
Singapore’s Ministry of Education promotes a framework for transforming the learning environment for students. To promote self-directed learning and a collaborative learning environment, 350 third-grade students and their teachers at Nan Chiau Primary School were given smartphones. This gave students anytime access to educational content, web-based resources and a broad range of learning tools that support self-directed and collaborative learning. 135 For this project, Qualcomm partnered with Microsoft, the National Institute of Education, Nokia, SingTel, and the University of Michigan.
131 World Economic Forum, “Accelerating the Adoption of mLearning: A Call for Collective and Collaborative Action,” (2012), at 4. Available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GAC_AcceleratingAdoptionMLearning_2012.pdf .
132 GSMA, “The Mobile Proposition for Education,” (March 2012) at 26, available at http://www.gsma.com/connectedliving/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/mobilepropositionforeducation1.pdf .
133 World Bank, “Surveying Mobile Learning Around the World (part one),” (May 29, 2012), available at http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/unesco-mobile-learning-series.
134 Qualcomm, “Wireless Reach Case Study: Jordan,” (February 17, 2012), available at http://www.qualcomm.com/media/documents/case-study-jordan-eng-dec-2011 .
135 Qualcomm, “Wireless Reach Case Study: Singapore,” (June 8, 2012), available at http://www.qualcomm.com/media/documents/wireless-reach-case-study-singapore-we-learn-english .