Are Smartphones the Solution to the Global Education Crisis?
In the last decade there has been significant progress in delivering educational resources to people around the world whose institutions and governments don’t provide them.
Access to literacy materials is up for women in societies that have traditionally denied those materials to them, and the awareness of the global literacy problem is high. The issue of global literacy and access to education continues to climb towards a tipping point, and I think the smartphone is it.
Smartphones are becoming a major part in the drive to deliver education materials far and wide for free. They are relatively inexpensive, can connect to the internet, and could even be connected to a larger display or projector. Those are all the tools an instructor needs to lead an engaging, 21st century class – save for the free course content. We say that the global education crisis is even more of a crisis now that the technology and the means exist to get the content out there. The next step is getting teachers and experts everywhere to make more content, to publish teaching modules that are more significant than a youtube video or a blog post – but full featured online courses with lectures, course readings, interactive resources on the internet, and exams that test the students’ skills.
Cell phones have already transformed the ways people do business in developing areas that never had land lines and just got cell service within the last decade. Even simple voice and text messaging have created veritable revolutions in farming, health, and banking and credit, and opportunities for employment. Farmers in rural areas of Africa and Asia use text messaging to check on market prices and adjust their prices accordingly. For people who have no way of banking or transferring money, a convenient way of sending cash has arisen via the transferring of pre-paid phone minutes. If you owe a friend some money it would be more convenient to top off his cell minutes than delivering the cash in person, especially if that person lives far away. There is also a pre-natal smartphone app that can measure the heartbeat of a baby in the womb called WinSenga, developed by Aaron Tushabe from Uganda.
Smartphones, because of their price and transportability, will become a more and more common commodity items in developing areas over the next decade. Along with health, banking, and other tools, education and literacy should be some of the most important content being played through those phones.
Image Credit: http://en.haberler.com/africa-smartphone-trend-drives-antenatal-app-240535/
Image Credit: http://lazytechguys.com/news/changing-healthcare-in-africa-through-smartphones/