Welcome to the day in the life of the average social teen!

Smartphone App Rules the Day

The proliferation of smartphones continue to increase amongst teens and getting younger all of the time!

  • Today over 95% of teens in the US have access to the Internet
  • Of the above group, 90% are on social media
  • 78% have a smartphone
  • #1 Social Media App for Teens is INSTAGRAM
App Addicted Teen Infographic

Source: http://www.teensafe.com//

so-korean-phone-control-appA new app being used by teachers in South Korea is drawing attention not for the learning it provides but, because it controls students’ smartphones.

The Korea JoongAng Daily reports on the iSmartKeeper app which “is designed to limit the functions available to students on their smartphones on school premises.

Controlling Student Smartphone Use?

There are six app options, including:

  • Freeze all student smartphone apps.
  • Enact a partial restrictions on access to certain pre-designated apps.
  • Freezing everything but making calls and sending texts.
  • Alert the teacher if students try to remove the app.

For advocates of greater individual freedom and the average tech-savvy teenager, this may sound like an Orwellian nightmare come true. But Korea’s government, teachers and parents think it’s time to consider ways to protect school-aged kids from being overly exposed to mobile devices.

For the past couple of years I’ve had the opportunity to meet with groups of educators from Korea’s Air & Correspondence.

Korean_Air_CorrespondenceA federally-funded initiative, the 40+ year old program serves the nation’s youth and adults who couldn’t get a diploma because they were forced to work in the factories to support their families or because they couldn’t afford to pay for high school (some students pay to go to most high schools in Korea). A high school diploma is a big deal, allowing someone to take a university entrance test or get a job in government or other higher-paid career.

The name “Air & Correspondence” comes from their early days when they used radio to deliver their lessons and mail to exchange student work. Since their beginning, they have taught over 300,000 students and currently have 15,000 students enrolled this year.

The number of households in Korea with broadband access is over 97% and they have some of the fastest internet speeds on the planet–almost 200x faster than the US! The online teachers we’ve met from Korea laugh when they use our Internet because it’s so slow.

According to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, 64.5 percent of Korea’s teenagers had smartphones last year, up from 21.4 percent in 2011.

So far, a total of 600 schools nationwide have expressed their intentions to use the iSmartKeeper system, said Professor Han of Gongju National University of Education.

And 30,000 students are now registered for the system.

We’re meeting with groups of Korean online learning teachers through May and June and I’ll be sure to ask them about the new iSmartKeeper app and report back what I learn.

Some Questions for mLearning Advocates

  • What do you think– is this something that would be embraced in the United States?
  • How does teacher control over a student’s smartphone effect mLearning?
  • How would the  educationally functional aspects conflict with privacy and control issues?

Let me know what you think!


Source: http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=2985383



Mobile Learning

SciDev.net writes a cautionary article about mobile learning in Africa and, while the title might seem negative, there’s no doubt there is an embrace of mobile learning technology to increase learning.

It’s key lessons are consistent with the problems of implementing technology anywhere: Primarily, projects need to be more about connecting people and less about technology. Additionally, that TEACHERS are a critical and essential component in ensuring the success of mobile learning.

Read the entire article below or from the SciDev.net web site.


Only projects that work with existing education systems will improve learning and cut poverty, says Niall Winters.

You’ve no doubt heard of the mobile phone revolution sweeping Sub-Saharan Africa — perhaps mobile money transfer, or mHealth. The hope is that mobile technologies will transform lives by improving health, education, finance and women’s position in society.

However, as knowledge management expert Piers Bocock notes, there is a vast disconnect between the companies that produce and market these technologies and on-the-ground implementers — with the hype perhaps best exemplified by former US President Bill Clinton.

Referring to a 2010 UN report, Clinton stated that mobile phones “are one of the most effective advancements in history to lift people out of poverty”. However, the report was clear that impact depends “on the context and on the environment in which ICTs are introduced and used”. [1,2]

Some may ask: what could be wrong with this focus on the mobile phone revolution? Don’t we all support progress?

In short, no.

While innovation is welcome, in some cases, how it is implemented risks increasing — not reducing — marginalisation. I’ll discuss just one example from education: teachers and their role in mobile learning projects in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Excluding teachers

Let’s begin with a simple question: when was the last time you heard the voice of teachers from Sub-Saharan Africa extolling the virtues of mobile phones in education? I’m not talking about nicely staged interviews — I mean really telling us how their teaching was fundamentally improved.

“It is a mistake to run down teachers’ professionalism to justify technology use in education.” – Niall Winters, University of London

Now, a second question: when was the last time you heard that teachers in Africa are not trained properly, are demotivated and that the formal education systems in which they work are weak? My hunch is that you’ve heard much more about this than you’ve heard teachers praising mobile technology.

My concern is that some people use the problems with education systems to justify excluding teachers from the design and development of mobile learning interventions. Teachers’ voices are marginalized. And mobile operators association GSMA (to take just one example) characterizes the teaching profession in a way that divorces it from progress and innovation.

The difficulties teachers face are used as a starting point for criticism, rather than as a motivation to address systemic issues. A good example of this is how the technology community has openly welcomed 2013 TED Prize winner Sugata Mitra’s work on learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge, even though his approach to achieving this is highly contested among educational researchers and practitioners. [3]

It is a mistake to run down teachers’ professionalism to justify technology use in education.

Creating an alternative vision

Instead, we need to create an alternative vision that values and prioritises teacher involvement in mobile learning.

First, begin by acknowledging that supporting teacher involvement is a messy, time-consuming and resource-intensive process. And commit to it — there is no magic technology bullet.

Second, understand that many teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa work under tough conditions; and build on research that analyses how these affect their teaching. An in-depth 2012 study in Tanzania, for example, found that teachers wanted to improve their qualifications and be respected but were constrained by resource limitations and the demands of daily life, which UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) clearly recognizes: overcrowded classrooms, malnourished students, low pay and a high-pressure workload. [4]

Third, learn from the One Laptop per Child program. Its uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa was generally judged to have failed because of a lack of integration with education ministries.

It is teachers who will support students with mobile learning interventions and help safeguard success. They need a central role in truly multi-stakeholder partnerships.

Build local capacity

Clearly, more investment in teacher training is needed within — and beyond — mobile learning programmes. Research has shown the crucial role teachers play in designing, developing and implementing education technologies.

Three things need to happen to support a more central role for teachers: reconfiguration of mobile learning projects, an increased use of participatory methodologies and less techno-centrism.

Reconfiguration requires a level of self-reflection. We know that many mobile learning projects are funded by sizeable donations made under corporate social responsibility budgets.

This often means a central role is played by the non-expert funder, not the teacher. If corporate funders stepped back, teachers would have more space to take on the more central role required.

However, this enhanced role cannot be supported without appropriate methodologies. Participatory approaches in development go back at least to the early 1970s and are still used in various ways — including giving a voice to marginalized people in the debate over the post-2015 developmental goals.

There is a vibrant Human-Computer Interaction for Development community that promotes user-centered approaches to technology design, use and evaluation. In my own work over the years, including in a current project for training community health workers in Kenya, we extensively use participatory approaches to help design and develop mobile learning interventions.

The idea that techno-centrism or even solely content-based solutions can address important educational challenges by themselves must be dropped. Research shows they can’t. [5]

The path to success is clear: the risks of increasing the marginalization of teachers — and by extension students — can only be ameliorated by understanding teachers’ practice, co-designing interventions with them and providing them with training.

Projects which work with existing educational systems, not against them, should have priority funding. Only then can mobile learning be seen to work for teachers, for their students and for the alleviation of poverty among those at the margins of society.

Niall Winters is a reader in learning technologies at the London Knowledge Lab at the University of London, United Kingdom. He can be reached at n.winters@ioe.ac.uk

Mobile Learning in Africa References

[1] UN Conference on Trade and Development Information Economy Report 2010: ICTs, Enterprises and Poverty Alleviation (UN, 2010)
[2] Clinton, B. The Case for Optimism (Time Magazine, 1 October 2012)
[3] Mitra, S. Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud (TED, video posted February 2013)
[4] International Journal of Educational Development doi: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2012.01.003 (2012)
[5] Winters, N. Why mobile learning on its own won’t solve the access problem (LIDC blog, 13 November 2012)

Source: http://www.scidev.net/global/education/opinion/how-teachers-in-africa-are-failed-by-mobile-learning.html

Growing Mobile Workforce

mobile workforce

It is estimated that 75% of the workforce in the US is already mobile and  that by 2015 the mobile workfoce, worldwide, will reach 1.3 billion or a staggering 37.2% of the global mobile workforce.

Are YOU part of the mobile workforce? Are you using mobile devices for your work? IF not, why not? Would the use of a mobile device in your field be a boon or a bust?

(Source: IDC predicts)