mReading to children: Leveraging mobile reading to promote and advance early childhood literacy

mEducation Alliance logoAt the recent mEducation Alliance Symposium in Washington, D.C., I presented, along with Elizabeth Wood, mReading to children: Leveraging mobile reading to promote and advance early childhood literacy. For this project, proposed in partnership with Worldreader, we are looking for partners for funding, technology support, content provision, and more.

The abstract is as follows:

The project goal is to promote educational outcomes of young children by providing a free mobile phone based portal for early childhood educational materials targeted to teachers, parents and caregivers in Kenya and Tanzania. This mobile application will be optimized for low end feature phones and will leverage best practice in the science of early childhood, delivering curated materials in English and Kiswahili. The project will be implemented in partnership with Worldreader, a non-profit organisation that uses mobile technology to distribute books.

Integrating mobile learning solutions for Syrian refugees in Iraq

mEducation Alliance logoLast week was the third annual mEducation Alliance Symposium in Washington, D.C., attended by over 175 participants from 20 countries with 40+ presentations about innovations for using technologies in education. Overall, this year’s event addressed a range of topics including technologies for reading, youth and workforce development,and for application in complex and challenging environments.

I gave four presentations, one of which was the UNESCO concept note Integrating mobile learning solutions for Syrian refugees in Iraq. This is a proposed project for which UNESCO is looking for partners for funding, technology support, content development, and more.

The abstract is as follows:

UNESCO research has indicated that mobile learning has special applicability in post-conflict, post-disaster contexts: displaced people often have working mobile devices; mobile networks are robust and tend to work even when other communication networks are down; and mobile content can be developed quickly and disseminated cheaply. Research has further indicated that mobile learning is most effective when it is integrated into more comprehensive educational solutions, rather than “parachuted in,” unconnected to schools and other community institutions. In the coming months UNESCO Iraq plans to build three schools for Syrian refugees in Kurdistan; UNESCO HQ proposes the creation of a mobile learning program to supplement, enrich and extend the educational services that will be offered in brick-and-motor buildings. Apart from providing immediate and urgently-needed educational support to Syrians, the project also allow UNESCO to establish an implementation model that can be applied elsewhere to advance the learning of refugees or other traumatized people.

edWeb Webinar: Global Efforts to Understand the Potential of Mobile Learning: UNESCO Shares Its Insight

edWeb logoThe potential of mobile learning continues to expand in the U.S. and around the world. As districts and schools work to implement technology that has become commonplace for many students outside of school, they face many challenges and opportunities. In a recent webinar for the Mobile Learning Explorations community, I provided attendees with a global perspective from UNESCO, while Jennifer Fritschi, Director of Strategic Partnerships at SETDA and Mary Ann Wolf, CEO of Wolf ED, shared the United States’ perspective. Mobile learning has the ability to improve education systems and help reach marginalized populations through expanded access. The presenters shared their insight on trends, examples, and policy and practice implications, including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and professional learning opportunities. The stigma that is associated with mobile learning was discussed as well as potential barriers that may be encountered during implementation. Collectively we tried to provide insight on how to overcome and ways to turn on mobile learning.

View the webinar.

edWeb webinar

Comments on Africa’s mobile phone e-learning transformation

I was recently interviewed by the Times Higher Education about mobile learning and higher education in Africa. The article, Africa’s mobile phone e-learning transformation, provides a good snapshot of the potential of mobile learning and why that potential is still not being fully realised.

Launch of UNICEF Child Friendly Technology Framework

UNICEF today launched the  “Child Friendly Technology Framework – 52 worksheets for brainstorming and project planning”, also known as the CFT.

Get full document at: Child_Friendly_Technology_Framework

From their site:

You can start using the CFT when you have an idea for a project with a technology component that is focused on children and adolescents. It consists of 52 worksheets grouped into seven sections. These worksheets serve as programme guidance and can spark conversations among your team members. The CFT will guide you through strategizing a context-specific plan, without proposing a one-size-fits-all solution. The finishing product will be a completed Concept Note and Executive Summary, which is essentially the Terms of Reference for your project. You can finalize it, share it, and kick off your work.

The CFT is created by the UNICEF Innovation Unit, Supply Division and Programme Division based on dedicated work and extensive research of UNICEF Country Offices.

I was happy to contribute to the CFT and am very impressed with the overall result. It is certainly a resource that I will use in the future.

NMC Horizon Report > 2013 K-12 Education Edition

nmc_itunesu.HRK122013_0The New Media Consortium, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), have once again released their annual Horizon Report > 2013 K-12 Education Edition.

Six emerging technologies are identified across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, as well as key trends and challenges expected to continue over the same period, giving educators, school administrators, and practitioners a valuable guide for strategic technology planning.

The NMC Horizon Report > 2013 K-12 Edition recognizes cloud computing and mobile learning as technologies expected to enter mainstream use in the first horizon of one year or less. Learning analytics and open content are seen in the second horizon of two to three years; and 3D printing and virtual and remote laboratories emerged in the third horizon of four to five years.

I was privileged to be on the Advisory Board for the publication. It was a very interesting experience suggesting different emerging technologies, trends and challenges, in a group space and then voting the top ones in. While it is always a challenge to include the opinions of someone who is working in, say, the New York school district, with that of someone running a project in Nigeria, overall, I fully support the six key emerging technologies in 2013. The time for mobile learning, whether in Singapore or in Abuja, has come. Also of interest is open content, which after many years of pushing by the growing OER movement, has also finally come into the popular limelight and will only grow further in the future.

Mobile learning at the Nigeria Summit

Nigeria Summit 2013
I was honored to sit on a panel at The Economist’s Nigeria Summit 2013 in Lagos. The panel was titled SKILLS AND EDUCATION – DEVELOPING NIGERIA’S PEOPLE POWER. Below are my speaking notes.

Education challenges

As we all know, the world faces major education challenges, including:

Shortage of trained and motivated teachers

“The latest estimates suggest that 112 countries need to expand their workforce by a total of 5.4 million primary school teachers by 2015. New recruits are needed to cover both the 2 million additional posts required to reach universal primary education and the 3.4 million posts of those leaving the profession. Sub-Saharan African countries alone need to recruit more than 2 million teachers to achieve UPE.” Global Monitoring Report, 2012

“More than 200,000 new teachers are needed in Nigeria to ensure that there is one primary level teacher for no more than 40 learners.” Global Partnership for Education (Every Child Needs a Teacher report)

“61-100 pupils per lower-secondary teacher in Nigeria.” Global Partnership for Education (Every Child Needs a Teacher report)

Out of school children and drop-outs

“Nigeria alone is home to an estimated 10.5 million out-of-school children … 42% of the primary school-age population.” (Global Monitoring Report, 2012)

UNESCO focus on teachers

UNESCO is focused on improving education quality through supporting teachers. It has a comprehensive teacher strategy.

It is sees Africa as a priority and works in many countries on the continent.

Mobile revolution

Africa is the second largest and fastest growing mobile phone region in the world.

It has an estimated 735 million mobile phone subscriptions.

Nigeria’s mobile phone subscription base is set to hit 120 million in 2013.

It has fundamentally changed the way that people communicate, socialise, do business, bank and farm. Why not how they learn?

Mobile learning

My particular focus at UNESCO is mobile learning: how mobile technology can be used to improve teaching, learning and effective administration.

We believe that we need to fully leverage and exploit every opportunity to meet the massive education challenges.

Examples of mobile learning to support teachers: by providing content, connecting teachers in peer-to-peer support networks, assessment, and supporting teacher administration.

Mobile learning is not a saviour – but it can contribute in unique and new ways, not possible before.

Nigeria teachers’ project

In Nigeria we are about to launch a pilot project, in partnership with Nokia and in collaboration with the National Teachers’ Institute and the British Council.

Aimed at primary school teachers of English.

Daily messages delivered via mobile phones: content knowledgepedagogical tips, assessment questions, and motivational messages.

Launching on 2 May in Abuja.


I further describe the Nokia UNESCO partnership to support teacher development in Nigeria in this interview by WebTV.