Roundtable on Gender & ICTs with Chat Garcia Ramilo (APC)

On Monday, November 29, we are pleased to host Ms. Chat Garcia Ramilo, who is Coordinator and Analyst of Association for Progressive Communications (APC).

Association for Progressive Communications
APC is a twenty year old global organisation that works to empower and support progressive organisations, social movements and individuals in and through the use of ICTs. One of APC’s strengths is its work in women’s rights and gender equality. Gender Evaluation Methodology (GEM) developed by APC is now used in many countriesfor the integration of a gender analysis into evaluations of initiatives that use ICTs for social change.

Venue: Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)
Av. Tibidabo 39-43 (Barcelona). Sala Jordi Pujol

Working language is English; If help with it needed, we will provide it.

This is by-invitation-only event.

For more info contact us at: catedraunesco[@]

Image by | Association for Progressive Communications (CreativeCommons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0)

Why Have Mobile Phones Succeeded Where Other Technologies Have Not?

This is an excerpt from an article by Jenny Aker in Center for Global Development Blogs

Mobile Phone Rural

[…] Mobile phones, by contrast, have been one of the most successful technologies ever introduced and adopted in the developing world. There are over 4 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide, including 1.7 million in Asia, 460 million in Latin America and 376 million in sub-Saharan Africa. While initial adopters were primarily male, rich, educated and urban residents, current adopters span the spectrum of rich and poorer, educated and uneducated, men and women. Adoption has occurred in different political environments (from Ghana to Somalia), in countries with multiple languages (e.g., Nigeria has 62 million subscribers and over 100 languages), with different mobile phone service providers and without (substantial) investment from the public sector. In fact, some of the poorer populations in the poorest countries in the world are adopting mobile phones – all despite the fact that mobile phone handsets, as well as voice and SMS services, are still relatively expensive. What can we learn from mobile phone adoption in developing countries for other technologies?

While this is a complex question, from a qualitative perspective, the answers might not be so difficult:

  1. Unlike many technologies, mobile phones have multiple uses (voice, SMS and internet) and multiple purposes, which can therefore translate into diverse economic and social benefits – such as talking with friends and family members, obtaining price or labor market information or asking colleagues for financial help.
  2. Many of these benefits are tangible and immediate, thereby allowing people to decide fairly quickly what those benefits are – rather than waiting for specific periods of the year.
  3. Mobile phones (especially the voice operations) are fairly easy to use, do not require literacy and can be learned quickly by practicing or from others.
  4. Not everyone needs to use a mobile phone to benefit from it. Multiple people can use one mobile phone, which means that its cost can be shared among multiple users.  At the same time, there are potential spillovers, since multiple people can benefit from one person’s use (e.g., information-sharing).
  5. Mobile phones can be easily adapted to local contexts. While the technology is still relatively new, mobile phones do not necessarily ask individuals to drastically change their existing agricultural, social or cultural practices. Rather, they provide an alternative form of communication.
  6. The mobile phone distribution system – handsets, SIM cards, scratch cards and charging services – extends into urban and rural areas (Coca-Cola, anyone)?  This means that mobile-related services are available to users, thereby facilitating adoption.  And the way in which those services are provided – via the pre-paid system — allows credit-constrained users to buy credit as they need it, and for increasingly tiny amounts.

Read the Full article | Why Have Mobile Phones Succeeded Where Other Technologies Have Not?

Photo by | Dipanker Dutta

La Cátedra y el VII Seminario Internacional en la Radio

A continuación presentamos dos cortes correspondientes a dos entrevistas realizadas en Cadenas de Radio (Catalunya Radio y Cadena SER) a Julià Minguillón, Director Académico de la Cátedra UNESCO en e-Learning, sobre tecnologías móviles y el VII Seminario Internacional de la Cátedra: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development.

Catalunya Radio

Catalunya Radio (Solidaris) – 9 Octubre de 2010

CATRADIO_09-10-2010_Solidaris (Duración: 01:23)

Cadena SER

Cadena SER (Punto de Fuga) – 11 de octubre de 2010

SER_11-10-2010_Punto_de_Fuga (Duración: 09:53)

Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development (XIV). Julià Minguillón: Closing remarks for the Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development seminar

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning VII International Seminar: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development, held in Casa Asia, Barcelona, Spain, on October 6-7, 2010. More notes on this event: eLChair10.

Closing remarks — VII International Seminar of the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development
Julià Minguillón, UOC.

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Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development (XIII). Social and Ethical Issues in Education Technologies

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning VII International Seminar: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development, held in Casa Asia, Barcelona, Spain, on October 6-7, 2010. More notes on this event: eLChair10.

Round Table: Social and Ethical Issues in Education Technologies
Jill Attewell, Steve Vosoo, Matthew Kam & John Trexler. Moderates: Manuel Castells, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3, UOC)

Social entrepreneurship?

Eva de Lera: What about social entrepreneurship?

John Trexler: there does not seem to be a lot of activity in social entrepreneurship in the field of learning. Maybe other models, like free schools in the UK would be a better option if we are talking about education.

Matthew Kam: it depends on the definition of social entrepreneurship. If entrepreneurship is doing something that benefits your community, we may find some. And some of this deliver pretty good education.

Are we in the right path?

Emma Kiselyova:  How do we know that what we are doing is the right thing to do? Could it be that we could do more harm than good?

Jill Attewell: I’d rather use technology enhanced learning, not e-learning. This way, what we are doing is not creating something new from scratch, but enhancing something that already existed.

Steve Vosloo: how carefully is too careful? Sometimes going “too” carefully may imply losing lots of opportunities.

John Trexler: It is OK to go as quick as possible. The problem is that reflections need their own pace, and we sometimes take decisions on flawed reflections.


Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol: What are the conflicts between formal and informal education? What is the role of motivation in this apparent dichotomy? Does it have to be informal to motivate? Is that good or bad?

John Trexler: It depends on what we understand by motivation. Motivation has sometimes been “triggered” by just pouring money or free devices in the users’ hands.

Mireia Fernández-Ardèvol: Indeed, motivation should come from other channels rather than — or added to — technological ones, like organizational change, institutions, etc.

[I personally wonder whether we might be “crowding out” formal education for too much focusing in informal education].

Success and failure

César Córcoles: How do we know which projects are successful and which a failure? And which ones are more likely to succeed and which others to fail? What is the tolerance to failure?

Matthew Kam: One of the problems is that most of the projects do not count as scholarly research, which means that many resources (especially human) are automatically kept away from being applied in many projects. On the other hand, most funding goes to successful projects, even if some failures may imply interesting lessons learnt that could be applied to following projects.

What infrastructure

Carlos Fernández: What about one-cellphone-for-all (the style of OLPC)?

Manuel Castells: the matter is that almost everyone already has a mobile device, and thus is why many projects address mobile phones.

John Traxler: this is the story again of the ideology behind the technology.

Jill Attewell: people in poor areas want the same devices as everyone else and they want the same features.

Julià Minguillón: the OLPC project failed because it never was an educational project. It never had the educational community in its design, teachers were not trained, contents were not created, etc.

Educational institutions

Ismael Peña-López: if industrialization — with its flaws — brought education to everyone, why do most educational projects keep on circumventing educational institutions instead of strengthening them? Why so much focus in informal education?

Matthew Kam: agreed. Nevertheless, there are many aspects of informal education, gaming, etc. that could contribute a lot to improve and bring a wind of change to institutions [which I in turn agree too].

Manuel Castells: indeed, most schools are not about education and empowering the kids, but about politics. Nevertheless, if change is to be made, institutions definitely have to be an important part of it.

Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development (XII). John Traxler: Mobiles for Learning in Africa…. Too Good to be True?

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning VII International Seminar: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development, held in Casa Asia, Barcelona, Spain, on October 6-7, 2010. More notes on this event: eLChair10.

Mobiles for Learning in Africa…. Too Good to be True?
John Traxler, University of Wolverhampton, UK

Technology should address three kinds of problems, in this order:

  • Problems that are difficult;
  • problems that are impossible; and
  • problems that are inconceivable.

This in part means that solutions may not be extrapolated because most problems aren’t (mainly because of their context-dependent nature).

We also have to be aware that all technologies have embedded ideologies, and in this specific case contain embedded pedagogies. This might put in danger pre-existing (to our technological landing) learning communities or learning systems, communities or systems that may be fragile compared to the steamroller power of technology. Bottom-up developments are here replaced or impersonated by outside-in developments.

A deeper look at the local context, institutions, needs should be taking place. We’re looking at the sewer and the seeds, and not at the soil.

John Traxler quickly highlights here several examples of m-learning, open and distance learning in Africa. One of these projects is about an SMS-enabled Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) [which reminds me of an exchange of tweets that some of us had long ago about creating “FrontlineSMS:Edu”].

Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development (X). Claudia Aparicio: Requirements and opportunities for the development of a mobile learning strategy in emergent countries

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning VII International Seminar: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development, held in Casa Asia, Barcelona, Spain, on October 6-7, 2010. More notes on this event: eLChair10.

Requirements and opportunities for the development of a mobile learning strategy in emergent countries
Claudia Aparicio, Fundación Telefónica, Colombia

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The situation in Colombia: 85% internet access in public education, mobile market penetration of 90%, 1 computer per 21 students, techer’s e-learning uses are still low, teachers haven’t broadband access at home, the monthly income for a teacher is US$ 600 in average. So, what could be the impact of using mobile technologies in this context? How can m-learning help in overcoming these challenges?

The other part of the context is that people already use SMS to get news and WAP to access remote tools. This has boosted a positive attitude towards Information and Communication Technologies. SMS have reduced the costs of communications and advanced services have brought communities closer.

Notwithstanding, there still is the challenge on how to apply these tools and the positive attitude into the educational arena.

A strong point is converting the teachers from consumers into producers. A combination of a web authoring platform + tutorials can enable the teacher to produce their own leaning materials, make them more personal, reduce costs. The project (the platform) will work either through SMS, WAP and a web portal.


Ismael Peña-López: What has been the involvement of the education community in the project? A: Telefónica Foundation has been in constant contact with the community. Indeed, the Educared Colombia community is already very active and has been eager to participate in the design and testing of the project.

Iolanda García: Is it SMS/WAP an alternative to broadband? It may not, but it actually is in many places (e.g. rural areas) where broadband is not accessible. In these places, teachers download online materials on their phones to use them in their classrooms, where no-one (but the teacher) has access to the Internet.

Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development (IX). Carolina Jeux: Analysis of the m-learning practices in Telefónica regarding its different stakeholders: Employees and Families, Customers and Society

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning VII International Seminar: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development, held in Casa Asia, Barcelona, Spain, on October 6-7, 2010. More notes on this event: eLChair10.

Analysis of the m-learning practices in Telefónica regarding its different stakeholders: Employees and Families, Customers and Society
Carolina Jeux, Telefónica Learning Services, Spain

Nowadays, almost everything can be mobile learning, as there are multiple devices that allow mobile connectivity, not only cellphones. Mobile learning can provide efficient, scalable and consistent training throughout all the organization.

Some corporate training applications of m-learning are: mobile content in products and services, languages, simulators, motivations process through SMS, MP4 content for pre and post sessions, authoring tools (teachme) that implements content for mobile phones, etc. Indeed, there are circa 1.5 million hours of learning every year at Telefonica, which increasingly implies that learning is part of one’s job.

When the trend is to move from a common Learning Management System towards a Personal Learning Environment, m-learning makes even more sense because it allows for higher degrees of personalization, even if this means losing some control on the whole process.

Carolina Jeux here presents several initiatives that her company has run on m-learning, some of them gorgeous as the training of 60,000 postmen of the Spanish Mail through their PDAs, the creation of ESTELA, the Escuela Ténica de Telefónica Latinoamérica, etc.


Q: What are the profiles of the people that localize or create local content? A: They are normally natives of a specific country/culture, because it is not about translating content but really about localizing.

[Here follows a debate on net neutrality, openness of corporations, open educational resources and the relationship of Telefónica with these concepts which I’m neither able nor willing to reproduce because I have strong feelings on the topic].

Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development (VII). Matthew Kam: Mobile Phones and Language Literacy in Rural Developing Regions

Notes from the UOC UNESCO Chair in e-Learning VII International Seminar: Mobile Technologies for Learning and Development, held in Casa Asia, Barcelona, Spain, on October 6-7, 2010. More notes on this event: eLChair10.

Mobile Phones and Language Literacy in Rural Developing Regions
Matthew Kam, Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, USA

When analysing what the user is doing with technology, it is very important to have a multidisciplinary approach.

Needs and problem statement: fluency in “power language” (e.g. English), public schools in developing regions (e.g. India) are not succeeding, 101 million primary school-age children do not attend school (36M in South-Asia, 39M in Sub-Saharan Africa).

How can cellphones make education more accessible through out-of-school environments? Can game-like exercises provide an enjoyable learning experience? Can one learn anytime, anywhere without disrupting work?

The project began in India in 2004 with 10 rounds of fieldwork (adding up to more than 12 months of fieldwork). Since 2004 and during that time, there has been several rounds of pilots that included needs assessments, exploratory studies in slums and villages, feasibility studies again in slums and villages, testing, classroom and out-of-school studies and controlled studies.

A classroom study deployed throughout 2008, three times per week, after-school program at a private village school, demonstrated significant post-test improvements on spelling skills, with learning gains correlated with grade levels.

MILLEE project

Another out-of-school pilot study focused on the use of cellphones in children’s daily lives over an extended time. The participation in the study was voluntary. m-Learning consisted in cellphone-based game when “working” in the fields to improve English literacy. It was a task-based language teaching, with an instructional sequence around tasks. Much of the methodology was already out in the market (do not reinvent the wheel), so best practices in 2nd language teaching were analysed and more than 50 design patterns where distilled to be applied in the own project.

On the other hand, it was also analysed what were traditional Indian villages games like, how were they different from existing Western videogames. Thus, 296 game design patterns where documented, identifying 37 non-tribial differences. At last, educational games were designed on purpose and based on traditional village games.

Access to electricity was a major issue, and the average user could use the mobile phone for learning during 2:23h per week. Social environment was also an issue, as some kids had to hide the phones away from their parents or brothers, had maintenance issues, etc.

The average participant covered 46 new words over 16 weeks of unsupervised usage of cellphones. At this rate, each participant is expected to learn 150 words in a calendar year. Benchmark is 500 words, given good learning conditions. The problem is that during the first 8 weeks, the rate of number of new words completed is very high (up to 40-65 words per week), while the rate falls to under 10 words per week for the rest of the weeks. So, the novelty effect has a very hight attraction power, but it ends up fading out.

This project has been now on a scaling-up phase with a Nokia grant that enabled the extension of the pilot to 800 low-income children in 40 locations.

A major challenge for this project is not scaling in quantity, but also in quality, making it advance towards the acquisition of advanced literacy skills. The project is now being designed based on Chall’s stages of reading development. On the other hand, one size fits all approach does not scale, which implies quite a complex deployment strategy.


Ismael Peña-López: Has there any research been made to analyse the fading out of the novelty effect? Any ideas on how to extend it? A: There are two strategies to extend the novelty effect. The most evident one is, of course, to include more and more novelties along time. This is, usually, not economically sustainable, as content production is very expensive. On the other hand, introduction of more and more novelties might be misleading. A second way, which is not actually extending the novelty effect, is to make the games more engaging. This is the strategy the project is taking and that is why a game designer has joined the team to specifically focus in this aspect.

Eva de Lera: Why not using bigger devices/displays that allow for more users at the same time that the tiny cellphone screen? A: There is not really a single approach. There are many experiences on several users converging on a single device, like the multi-mice PC. On the other hand, engagement in language learning often depends on oneself being in charge of his own learning, and being in control of the game. But, yes, definitely, there is not a single path.

Carlos Fernández: Why not using less multimedia-intensive learning games (e.g. quizzes) with lower requirements of adoption and, especially, with lower power/battery requirements? A: This is already done, but it also has a trade-off with engagement, so it is difficult to tell where the balance is.

Q: How far can we go on in m-learning for language literacy? A: It depends. It certainly can go really far, but we should definitely consider (i.e. do not forget) the role of the teacher. Thus, maybe the upper end of m-learning should more be about teacher training rather than direct student education. Talking about individual vs. group activities, the shortcomings are not obvious; sometimes individual use is better.

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