A short survey of the mobile learning solutions deployed in Pakistan : By Sajid Ali Anjum

According to Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) report in Dec 2012[1], Pakistan is ranked at number 8 in the world with respect to the number of mobile phones being used, with a mobile phone density of 68.83%. According to a national survey in 2009[2], the overall literacy rate of Pakistan is 57% (69% for male and 45% for female). In a country where the mobile phone density is higher than the literacy rate, we can think of developing such mobile learning solutions with which we can educate the illiterate people of the country.

Mobile Learning Solutions Deployed in Pakistan

In this survey, I mentioned about prominent mobile learning solutions deployed in Pakistan to the best of my knowledge.

A) SMS based mobile learning solutions

1. Mobile-based post-literacy program by UNESCO & Mobilink [3]: A SMS-based mobile learning program which focuses on the education of women in Pakistan. In this program, mobile phones were given to the learners and then messages containing pedagogically correct, but fun and interesting, topics were sent to the post-literates. The learners then had to write the messages by hand on workbooks and read it repeatedly, which were listened by the teachers. It also includes answering questions via messages. This project costs US $57 per head only (including mobile phone cost i.e. $33) and if a phone is reused by at least three learner then this project costs US $33 per head. With the help of this program, 1,500 women were made literate in 2011 and 2500 more women are expected to be literate by 2012.

B) Video based mobile learning solutions

1. Mobile learning for teachers by UNESCO, Nokia & AGAHI [4] [5]: An effort made by the mentioned companies to improve the quality of teaching by training the teachers using mobile phones. The major motivation behind this project is the limited number of resources available to train the teachers, the cost of traveling and time spend by the teachers to get trained. In this project, an application for mobile phones is developed. Using this application, teachers can browse and watch a catalog of educational videos related to their fields. The educational videos are authored and managed by a number of selected resource persons.

2. Toffee TV [6]: An award winning project [7] that focuses on the education of children. It includes thousands of educational videos to learn Urdu. The educational videos are about Urdu stories and poems. Toffee TV provides a mobile based application, through which learners can browse and watch educational videos of their choice.

3. Rehan School – Mobile Based Internet less Education [8]: An award winning project [9] that provides a rich library of learning contents in form of videos. These videos are made available at different computer/mobile shops in Pakistan, from where any learner can put these videos in their phones. This project overcomes the hurdle of using internet to download videos, by making them available at local stores.

C) Voice Call based learning solutions

In Pakistan, number of telecom companies provide IVR (interactive voice response) based services to educate people.

1. Mobilink Kids Portal [10] provides children a facility of browsing hundreds of Urdu/English stories, Nursery Rhymes, Urdu literature, Islamic Knowledge, General Knowledge, Health & Cleanliness, Science & Technology and competitions.

2. Mobilink Ladies Line [11] is a portal that offers various services for women of every age and varied lifestyles e.g. health, nutrition, matrimonial, cooking, parenting, kids care and others.

3. Mobilink Jazz Station [12] offers listening to live transmission of TV and FM channels.

D) Mobile Games and Simulations for learning

Pakistan based mobile software companies and individuals are also contributing to the community by developing educational games. Some of them are as follow:

1. Animal 101 by TenPearls [13]:  Animal 101 is an interactive award winning [14] application for children and parents alike. It is a learning based application about animals that aims to teach children of 3-8 years to learn about animals by engaging them in fun and interactive games.

2. ‘Brain Bash’ and ‘Math N Fun’ [15] by SajiSoft: Brain Bash is an interactive application designed to enhance the mental performance of kids or adults, by providing mathematical, logical & memory exercises in a fun way. On the other hand, Math N Fun is an interactive application for kids that simulates chalk board effects to solve simple mathematical problems. Both applications are having over 50 thousand downloads.

Note: If any reader knows any other mobile learning solutions deployed in Pakistan then please, go ahead and share it in the comments.

Best Regards,

Sajid Ali Anjum

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