Mobile Devices For Educational Purposes Education Essay

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From the advent of the computer age, scientists, educators, and policy makers have started researching on computers as an agent of change in education. Computers have an amazing capacity to expand the human mind, mainly by aiding in computation or exploration. No other technology can yet rival its data processing abilities and have the ability to be used in education. The computer most definitely is the unparalleled way to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of various learning models. It also increases the impact of limited resources allocated to school systems.

But recent researches suggest- why has a monolithic focus on computers since mobile answers can also be the answer

Recently there is a mobile phone revolution in the developing world. From rural to the slum dwellers, poor people are acquiring mobile phones by themselves (without the government subsidies of the telecenter era). Mobiles represent a huge shift in distributing the technology deployment burden from the state to private companies and individual consumers. But still saturation levels are nearing one-to-one in the developed world, and then the next would be the urban areas of the developing world. This is because of their relative low costs and low operating needs. It is estimated that mobile phones will always out number computers. Also phones are extending in their capacity and computing power, with high-end smart phones rivaling some of the low-end netbooks already.

Theories of Mobile Learning

Mobile Access to Education!

In theory, mobile Learning increase access for those who are mobile and cannot physically attend learning institutions which means they cannot follow courses in a traditional educational setting due to the constraints of work, household activities. It also helps learners to pursue their studies according to their own schedule. The portable nature of mobile technology means mobile learning is not bound by fixed class times; mobile Learning enables learning at all times and in all places, during breaks, before or after shifts, at home, or on the go. However, mLearning is portable does not mean it is associated with physical movement. According to a study by Vavoula, only a few people actually utilize the time spent in transit to learn (Sharples, Taylor, & Vavoula, 2005, p. 3).

Mobile Learning, as Visser and West (2005) show is that it can also increase access in those situations where cost represents a significant barrier to learning (p. 132). In rural or remote areas where environmental and infrastructure challenges hinder other learning modalities, it presents great opportunities. For the individual learners, this technology is much less cost-prohibitive than other technologies like PC's and broadband connections. The ubiquity of mobile phones means that educational services can be delivered with learners' existing resources. Ii is an important mode by which to reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots in contemporary society where access to knowledge and information important (VanWeert, 2005).

Mobile Promotion on New Learning!

Some studies suggest that the benefits of mobile phones are not just limited to increased access to educational services. Mobile Learning can also facilitate changes in the character of learning modalities which will impact educational outcomes. Thus mobile learning represents more than an extension of traditional forms of education. Mobile Learning also facilitates designs for authentic learning, learning meaning that targets real-world problems and involves projects of relevance and interest to the learner (Kukulska-Hulme & Traxler 2007, pp.184-86; Traxler, 2007, p. 7). Mobiles also support great amount of learning that occurs during everyday life, learning that occurs spontaneously in impromptu settings outside of the classroom and outside of the usual environment of home and office. (Sharples et al., 2005, pp. 2, 4; 2007, pp. 222-23). They theoretically make learner-centred learning possible customizing the transfer of and access to information to build on their skills and knowledge to meet their own educational goals (Sharples et al., 2007, p. 223). Mobile Learning represents learning that is not 'just-in-case,' education for producing a bank of knowledge, rather it represents learning that is 'just-in-time,' 'just enough,' or 'just-for-me' (Traxler, 2007, p. 5). Mobiles can also supposedly facilitate knowledge-centred learning by providing efficient and inventive methods by which students can learn with understanding - meaning that they deepen their understanding of a specific subject matter rather than merely memorizing large amounts of information - and then use this knowledge as a basis for new learning through integration and interconnection. Mobile devices make assessment-centred learning and enable the provision of continual feedback throughout the learning process, presenting learners with diagnosis and formative guidance as to what might be improved or what might be learned next. Mobiles permit collaborative learning despite physical location, thus advancing the process of coming to know, which occurs through conversations across contexts and among various people. (Nyiri, 2002; Sharples et al., 2007, p. 225-26).

In promoting educational modalities that accord with the theories of new learning, mobile Learning should offer an appeal that impacts educational outcomes. Mobile Learning can be appealing for those who have not succeeded in traditional learning environments. Mobile Learning can provide immediate feedback and thus provide continued motivation for those who are not motivated by traditional educational settings. (Geddes, 2004, p. 4).


In light of the theories of how mobile Learning can solve access problems and facilitate new learning, many authors have tried to examine the existing evidence to confirm, or refute, the purported benefits advanced by the literature.

A few projects that are to be discussed are as follows

Projects that demonstrate the use of mobile phones for educational (formal and non-formal) purposes,

Projects that were implemented in the low-income/lower-middle income countries of Asia-Pacific,

Projects that clearly document results and have evidence, both qualitative and quantitative, such that definitive conclusions can be drawn regarding the impact of mobile phones on educational outcomes via increased access to education and/or via contribution to promoting new learning.

Case Studies

Viability of SMS Technologies for Non-Formal Distance Education in the Philippines

The project led by the Molave Development Foundation Inc. (MDFI) and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). It sought to explore the viability of Short Messaging Service (SMS) technologies for non-formal distance education in the Philippines. (Batchuluun, Ramos, & Trinona, 2007). It was based on the information gathered in pre-project surveys and focus-group discussions, the MDFI created two learning modules. One was titled MIND your English and other module was titled MIND your Math. Each module was designed to incorporate the use of SMS with a workbook. The modules were designed in such a way that SMS quizzes and tests had to be passed in order to complete the modules (Ramos, 2008, p. 9).

During the study several program and hardware problems arose during the testing phase of the project (Ramos, 2008, pp. 25-27). The SMS server card did not function originally with the PC host, a problem that was quickly fixed by transferring the SMS hardware to another PC. Some students would switched phones and others dropped out without advising their teachers, causing problems because the SMS system required updates to ensure that new numbers were not blocked. At the beginning of the project, the volume of incoming messages also led to delays in the auto-reply system.

The ALS indicated that the modules enabled them to do their schoolwork according to their own schedule. All students indicated that the flexibility afforded by the modules made the additional money worthwhile. Some students even pointed to the added benefit of being able to do their lessons during breaks The authors of the project conclude that cost is still an important factor for mobile Learning; a balance must be struck between providing increased education without becoming more costly than the student or learning institution is willing to pay (Ramos & Trinona, 2009, p. 254).

All students except two did not make use of the audio CD. Those that did make use of the audio CD, appreciated learning the proper pronunciation of the words. Rather than submitting answers at intervals, all the students went through the modules and recorded their answers and sent them in together at the end. The results of ALS A&E exam indicates that SMS-based learning was particularly beneficial for those students whose grades were situated at the lower end of the spectrum.

Viability of SMS Technologies for Non-Formal Distance Education in Mongolia

This project was carried out by two organizations; Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, the English for Special Purposes Foundation (ESPF) and the Health Sciences University of Mongolia (HSUM) (Batchuluun, Ramos, & Trinona, 2007). They created an English language module that had a workbook, dictionary, and audiocassette, with SMS messages required for completion of the module. The module was tested with a group of bank tellers and a group of restaurant servers. Similarly, the HSUM developed a module on emergency care for pregnant women and endocrinology, which was tested on a group of obstetricians and gynecologists. Evaluation of the modules was conducted via comparison of pre- and post-tests (Ramos, 2008, pp. 18-19).

The results reveal a difference in the mean scores of the pre- and post-tests, as do the results of the HSUM quiz. This indicates that SMS-based distance education curriculum facilitated an increase in the knowledge of those students that participated in the study (Ramos, 2008, p. 28).

Mobile Telephone Technology as a Distance Learning Tool in Bangladesh

This pilot project (Islam, Ashraf, Rahman, & Rahman, 2005) showed how mobile phones can introduce interactivity overcoming the problem of plaguing traditional distance education in Bangladesh, mainly including a lack of interaction between presenter and student, a lack of feedback during presentations, no monitoring of student progress throughout the course, and no evaluation of teaching quality. Because of the huge cost of Internet bandwidth, there is a lack of infrastructure to facilitate chat room technology or video conferencing; therefore mobile phones could be a promising alternative.

Fifty-two students were divided into two groups: the control group, (face-to-face with the instructor), and the experimental group, (with a projection screen on which they could watch the instructor). The two groups were each given the same pre-test and post-test, with the face-to-face group answering the questions by pencil and the other group answering via SMS.

The t-test of the scores reveals that mobile-based learning was as effective as face-to-face learning. The results indicate that mobile-based learning provides a feasible alternative, for the given educational access issues in Bangladesh.

Use of Mobile Phones for Testing at King Mongkut's Institute of Technology, Thailand

The project (Whattananarong, 2004) was to explore the effects of mobile phone use for testing at King Mongkut's Institute of Technology North Bangkok. 56 students were tested with similar tests from a test bank by the traditional paper and pen method and by simulated audio-mobile and visual-mobile methods. The visual-mobile simulated method involved the projection of questions on a screen, and the students responded to them by sending their answers via SMS. The audio-mobile simulated model had a tape recorder that played the questions out loud, and the students then responded by SMS. All students therefore had three sets of scores. A control group and experimental group were selected from the participants, and scores from the traditional method were compared to the mobile-based methods.

Results show that there was no significant difference between the test scores from the three methods. The project thus reveals no negative effects in the use of mobile phones for testing, implying that mobile phones can be used as a technology for educational reform in Thailand and for increasing access to educational services.

Cellphone Games in an After-School Program

This project (Kam, Kumar, Shirley, Mathur, & Canny, 2009) studied the role of mobile phones in expanding the reach of English language learning to out-of-school settings. The project was in the form of an after-school program consisting of children from rural, low-income families. A qualifying test was performed to ensure that students had the basic numeracy to utilize the mobile keypad as well as basic ESL literacy. A Hindi language test was also conducted since success in acquiring a second language is also correlated to literacy in one's native language.

A curriculum was devised that was aligned with local ESL learning needs and represented the equivalent that a qualified teacher can cover in eighteen hours with rural children in a classroom setting. The cell phone games targeted listening comprehension, word recognition, sentence construction, and spelling. Assessment was based on pre- and post-tests, which specifically targeted spelling. The results revealed average increase in the score between the pre- and post-tests; the mean pre-test score was 5.2 out of 18 while the mean post-test score was 8.4 out of 18, with the average post-test gains being 3.4. High-gains learners not only scored high on the post-test, but also outscored the low-gains learners on the pre-test, Hindi test, and qualifying test. Post-test gains show a high correlation with grade levels and medium correlation with age, which implies that high-gains learners were generally older and in more advanced grades at school than low-gains learners.

The results of this project contradict the claims that mobile learning can benefit those learners who have not performed well in traditional educational settings.

Learning Communities Enabled by Mobile Technology: A Case Study of School-Based, In-Service Secondary Teacher Training in Rural Bangladesh

This pilot project (Pouezevara & Khan, 2007a, 2007b) was to determine whether mobile phone-supported distance education could really serve as an effective modality for in-service secondary teacher training in Bangladesh. The project revised the training curriculum from a 2-week face-to-face workshop to a pilot 6-week distance education program consisting of 12 units. Each trainee was supposed to independently read and then reflect on the background materials provided, initiating communication with the trainer regarding the content when necessary. The trainee would then facilitate peer-learning sessions where he/she would gather colleagues from within the school to discuss training concepts and to observe the classroom practices of colleagues. Each unit would end with a conference call, involving the trainer and trainees from all the various schools as well as other colleagues in those schools. The integral component to the program design was the use of mobile phones, made available to the trainees. The mobile phones, as called for in the project design, would allow the trainer to send reminders, motivational messages, and assessment questions to the trainees via SMS as well as allow trainees to communicate with the trainer in order to pose questions, request materials, or respond to assessment questions. The mobile phones would also enable the conference calls at the end of each unit. Finally, the mobile phones would allow trainees to communicate amongst each other and with the smartphone capabilities to share multimedia examples of best practices.

Participants did not use the MMS capabilities, because the clips that trainees created were too long to be transmitted over the network. Some participants had difficulty with sending SMS messages because SMS could only be sent using English characters. Thus the trainees actually required instruction and support. In regards to the language issue, the authors of the project suggest that the use of mobile phones for teacher training might be more successful with English teachers (Pouezevara & Khan, 2007b, pp. 5-6).

Contrary to original expectations, the conference-calling feature was not used because the phone model selected for the project, despite the claims of the mobile phone provider, could only connect three locations at a time and because the sound quality was not adequate for discussions. This means that adequate infrastructure and hardware for the success of mobile Learning was lacking. The scheduled conference call times were instead used of one-on-one communication between the trainer and trainees. (Pouezevara & Khan, 2007b, pp. 4-5).

The project was not conclusive in determining whether the program was more effective with the use of mobile phones than had it been carried out as a traditional distance-learning course without the technology.

Mobile Phones and Learning in Secondary Schools

Elizabeth Hartnell-Young and Nadja Heym of the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Nottingham released a research report that would seem to contradict that current viewpoint. While How mobile phones help learning in secondary schools may not be a huge endorsement of cell phone use for educational purposes, it most definitely offers an interesting take on the potential use of these mobile devices to enhance the educational setting.

The study follows teachers in three schools who began exploring ways to use students' personal phones as well as additional borrowed smart phones. Though in each case there were existing school policies banning mobile phones in class, students were given permission to use cell phones for a wide array of activities.

The study focus was on one basic question: Is there a positive side to mobile phones in schools and if so, how might they be used to support learning? The researchers came away with a yes verdict and offered some specific ways in which cell phone technology could support learning.

As one might expect, students were at first quite surprised by the notion that mobile phones could actually be used for learning. Because of their prior use pattern, the phones were deemed items associated with socializing.

The use of the cell phone technology in the classroom IS as a great motivator for students. Almost all students reported greater enjoyment in projects and felt more motivated. In one school, results show that the phone use in the classroom helped students both in their social and learning environments. One key element supporting the use of mobile phones over other handheld learning devices is that most students already own mobile phones. Thus, the allowance of cell phones was a step towards student ownership and greater personalization of learning. Additionally, the phones allowed for a reduction in the number of devices to carry.

Noting the current concerns, the researchers claim that the eventual aim should be to replace policies that involve blanket bans on the devices. This means that the supervision-related challenges associated with cell phones and therefore noted that whole-school changes should not occur at the outset. The researchers suggest that mobile phones could be perceived as natural in the school setting as any other technology.



A study by world bank he study to show the potential that low cost mobile devices could have on education was carried out with the intent of raising awareness among key decision makers in the public, private and civil society sectors. this work hopes to serve as common base for further analytical work in this area, and also inform the explosion of development of new hardware. It is also hoped that, software and business services occurring on mobile devices, will also benefit from these educational objectives.

This activity was a component of the larger 'mobile flagship' program at the World Bank which consisted of different studies and activities related to mobile services and applications like "Mobile Banking Users and Non Users Behavior Study"; "Extending Mobile Applications in Africa through Social Networking"; and "Mobile Applications for Sectoral Development".

 This research is being carried to find the answer the question- Will ICT tool choice for students in developing countries will be the mobile phone, and not the computer?

This is a popular question of debate in many circles. However no matter whatever the eventual result of this debate (and no doubt it will not yield a simple either/or answer) will be, there are few widespread examples of the use of phones for education purposes inside or outside of classrooms in developing countries that had been well documented..

28% of Africans already have a mobile phone subscription, according to the data released by ITU. But the larger trend is to see if two out of every three mobile subscribers around the world are living in a developing country or not. Measuring the Information Society noted that two-thirds of the world's cell phone subscriptions are in developing nations, with Africa, which has a 2% subscriber rate as recently as 2000, growing the fastest. And it is not only adults who are making use of this new technology. Recent survey work at a low-income high school in South Africa's Samora Machel township (for example) show that mobile penetration among youth in some places is higher than suspected.

Explosive use of mobile phones in developing countries is well-documented -- and undeniable -- and evidence is emerging that phones are slowly making their way into the hands of teens; what this might mean for the imparting education in developing countries is a little less clear.

Five years ago infoDev commissioned work to map out what was known about the nascent topic of 'mobile banking', and the study helped frame the issues for donor agencies, governments, NGOs and private sector firms alike. 'M-banking' has gained momentum since then, and this study proposes to do for the use of mobile phones in education what the earlier infoDev study did for the use of mobile phones in the financial services sector. Efforts are underway to explore various aspects of the emerging phenomenon of the use of mobile phones in education, but no institution has come forward to help catalyze global collaboration and cooperation around research directions and agenda setting in this area. This work will tap the expertise and convening power of a number of key partner organizations and experts active in this area.


The aims of this study were to firstly map the existing projects and initiatives that explore the use of mobile phones in education in developing countries. Secondly it is to map the existing and potential uses of mobile phones for education, and also to compare and contrast them with other ICT devices. Thirdly it is to Document lessons that have been learned so far which include key initiatives in this area, proposing tentative guidance for policymakers and various stakeholder groups in this fast moving area. Fourthly it was also done to propose a conceptual framework and a way advance further the analytical work which can aid in the documentation and rigorous impact cost and impact assessment of the use of mobile phones in education.

Though 'education' was the main focus, this area is not only limited to the formal education sector itself. The activities of Lifelong learning and educational outreach utilizing mobile phone and its benefits for the health and agricultural sectors were also within the scope of this study. This work is based heavily on organizations and expertise active in these areas.

Ideas for Using Cell Phones in Education

Student response polling or pop quizzes (no need to invest in additional devices)

sms to find definitions, currency conversion, math equations, translation and more

Internet browser to access endless information


Read news articles and current events

Read books

Download and use education programs such as Google Maps and use as GPS

Use as a digital or video camera to accompany school projects, publishing, etc.

Educate students on appropriate and acceptable social use

Use the voice technology to share engaging lectures or lessons


Should educators and students be taught ways to unleash the educational value of technologies even if they may not be accessible in schools?

Program provides every student at certain schools with cell phones in an effort to increase student achievement. Should those phones just be seen as a reward and a tool to use after school or should those teachers and students have an opportunity to learn about, model, and implement ways to use these devices as powerful learning tools?

Should the decision of use of cell phones and other technologies be at the discretion of the mayor or should informed educators and building leaders be empowered to determine if they want to employ such a policy?

Should educators and students be encouraged to make an educational case for allowing various technologies to be used acceptably, appropriately, and educationally in schools?


Analysis of these projects shows there is important evidence in the developing world that mobile phones can impact on educational outcomes by facilitating increased access, however much less evidence exists to show how mobiles impact educational outcomes by promoting new learning. Feedback from participants in the Philippines and Mongolia projects indicates greater flexibility of schedule that mobile Learning affords. Participants in the Bangladesh teacher training program underscored the benefits of being able to stay with their families and in their schools for the two-week training period. The mobile phone-based teacher training program helped Bangladesh Ministry of Education to extend access to quality training in a more affordable manner. The Philippines, Bangladesh SMS, and Thailand projects show that mobiles can reduce barriers to education while attaining educational outcomes that are, at minimum, comparable to those of traditional educational methods.

The projects have also revealed that there important issues that must be taken into consideration for future mobile phone interventions to facilitate improved access to education. As participants in the Thailand project mentioned, that technological issues such as screen size could remain a barrier to effective mobile Learning. Technical difficulties in the Philippines and Mongolia projects also reveal that the quality of the software and hardware is instrumental to the success. Additionally language barriers and unfamiliarity with advanced smartphone functions in the Bangladesh teacher training project show that inadequate training can impede the benefits of mobile Learning interventions. The Bangladesh teacher training project demonstrates that the state of mobile infrastructure directly affects the success of mobile Learning interventions. Authors of the Philippines project imply cost remains a relevant factor. Mobile Learning is not always less expensive for the individual learner due to the fact that most of the mobile Learning literature addresses the developed world.

The findings of the projects are mixed in regards to the extent to which mobile Learning promotes new learning. Feedback from participants shows that it enables learner-centered education. It also provides increased interaction. Several projects also reveal the motivational factor of the immediate feedback that mobile Learning makes possible. Additionally, participants, particularly those in the Philippines and Mongolia projects, expressed that they enjoyed the appeal factor stemming from the use of a novel technology. Only the Bangladesh teacher training pilot project demonstrates the benefits of mobile Learning. Teacher trainees were able to immediately apply lessons learned within their classrooms and discuss results of the newly applied techniques with trainers and other trainees. The other projects reviewed have not provided evidence of these supposedly important aspects of mobile Learning. The important results of the Bangladesh teacher training project, shows that further exploration in the context of the developing world regarding the positive impact that mobile phone-facilitated mobile Learning can have on educational outcomes.

The projects reviewed also produce certain contradictory evidences regarding the benefits of mobile learning for those who have not succeeded in traditional educational settings. The Philippines project indicates that mobile Learning, affords great opportunities for such learners. The India project, contrarily, indicates that those with a weaker academic foundation are less able to take advantage of the benefits provided by mobile phones and would rather benefit from a more teacher-centric educational approach. Such discrepancy in the results necessitates future investigation.

Although the above projects reviewed point to a positive role with respect to mobiles as a tool to access educational materials and deliver more learner-centered curriculum, still future research is necessary to investigate the opportunity cost of investing in mobile Learning. Investments in educational infrastructure and materials, as well as more traditional teacher training, might conjointly yield more beneficial educational outcomes.

Also very little research in the developing world has sort to comparing the costs and benefits of the different technologies used to deliver educational services - traditional technologies like television and radio, or newer ones such as computers and mobiles; in order to ensure that governments have the appropriate information to make wise investments.