Dumb Phones Become Smart Textbooks

KimJonesimageBy Kim Jones, CEO, Curriki

In the Philippines, very few students can afford tablets or smartphones. In fact even in Manila only about 10% or so of all mobile phones are smartphones and those are mainly in the hands of adults, of course. Families generally have older style mobile phones used mostly for texting.

Students also typically carry a heavy load of textbooks to and from school each day. What can be done to move toward digital learning and to alleviate the physical burden of textbooks?

The SMART Communications telecoms provider in the Philippines, together with advertising agency DM9, has initiated a campaign known as Smart Txtbks to place textbook materials into an SMS format, residing on the SIMS of old analog mobile phones. So now the “dumb” phone becomes an e-textbook, acquiring smarts. Phones are upgraded from texting to textbooks!

The campaign is active at a number of schools and has helped improve both attendance and test scores. It is now expanding with more subject disciplines being added, and spreading across additional schools the Philippines.

Watch a short video on this fascinating digital learning effort here:

(If you can’t see the video in your browser, then click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=nqhdq76YXJc )

And here’s an article on the project:

http://www.techinasia.com/textbooks-on-feature-phones-boost-education-in-philippines/

Open educational resources are very well suited to this kind of solution. Because OER materials such as those found on Curriki are open source licensed, they can be modified and reformatted as needed, in order to adapt to different educational needs and different devices and formats. They also can be translated to different languages. We applaud this innovative campaign, and encourage its growth. And we stand ready to supply OER materials to programs of this type.

We also send our condolences and heartfelt concern to those impacted by the Haiyan typhoon which affected so much of the Philippines these past 2 days.

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