Mobile Learning Trainer Toolkit (#mlearning)
The mobile learning toolkit is developed by International Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations. It is the result of research into mobile phone use and user needs within the African context, however it has been developed for use in all developing contexts. It is intended as a “trainer’s toolkit” that can help deliver a wide range of training activities both inside and outside of the classroom.
Why Mobile Learning?
Of the world’s total population of 6.5 billion, 90% have little or no access to most of the products and services many of us take for granted.
However, the mobile phone is a product that has become phenomenally widespread and has revolutionised life in developing regions.
Nowhere has the effect been more dramatic than in Africa. While access to a fixed landline has remained static for a decade, access to a mobile phone has soared in the past few years.
There are over 500 million mobile phone subscribers in Africa today, more than half of the continent’s population. Many of these mobile users do not have access to a computer, the internet or even electricity. Of the 110 million Africans that do use the internet, more than half do so via their mobile phone.
Moreover, the mobile phone has become a platform for a host of applications that offer new social and economic benefits to users. New services and systems are being built around this object to add value, and in just a few years, mobile applications have transformed the lives of many Africans.
Mobile learning or m-learning is an emerging field that attempts to do just that. While less established than m-health and m-banking, m-learning has a great potential for contributing to social and economic development in Africa, and this toolkit aims to offer the possibility of taking a step closer to this goal.
Mobile Learning Toolkit from UN ILO
The mobile learning toolkit is an open source resource that can be used in the delivery of all kinds of training in any context. It has been designed to be as inclusive as possible, with most of the methods requiring only low end devices (basic mobile phones with voice calling and SMS capability). In this way the toolkit can be used to deliver interactive learning experiences to participants right to the Base of the Pyramid (BoP).
In this toolkit 15 methods for mobile learning are presented, all of which are designed to be carried out in combination with one or more F2F training sessions.
A general overview of each method is given, plus a step by step guide to implementing the method, and a suggestion of how the method can be used in the delivery of the my.coop training developed by the ILO. The methods are divided into 4 categories: deliver content, assign tasks, gather feedback and provide support.
These methods require some tools, for example a system for the trainer to send bulk SMS messages and collect responses or to record audio podcasts. Therefore a selection of the most relevant tools is included after the methods, although there are many others.
As each context and situation is different, it is left to the reader to decide which methods to use and the tools they feel most suitable for achieving them.
This toolkit is intended as an open source tool that can continue to be improved and added to with the feedback and collaboration of its users. As such, any feedback, comments and ideas are welcome and can be shared by email, twitter or SMS:
What is Mobile Learning?
There are various definitions of mobile learning (sometimes written as m-learning or mLearning), however in the context of this toolkit mobile learning is considered to be:
the ability to develop knowledge or skills through engaging with learning materials in any environment or location
Therefore while every method in this toolkit speaks about mobile phones, the technology should be viewed as a tool able to facilitate an enhanced learning experience and not the core element.
Moreover, in the context of this toolkit, mobile learning is not about replacing face-to-face (F2F) training, but about complimenting this element and extending the learning experience beyond the classroom, for example:
// giving participants access to learning content wherever they are
// stimulating them to reflect upon, analyse and develop their opinion on core concepts
// distributing on the field tasks that could not otherwise be achieved in the classroom
// creating a more interactive and engaging experience both inside and outside of the classroom
// extending the learning experience to before and/or after a face-to-face training session
// maximising the value of face-to-face training sessions with warm-up and follow-up activities
Finally, it is important to note that mobile learning is not about forcing people to use their mobile phone. Even when methods have a more technical part, participants should be free to use any technology to achieve the task at hand. For example in some interactive tasks participants are asked to take photos on the field and send them to the trainer in advance. This does not mean that the participant must take photos using their mobile phone and send them via MMS. They are equally free to use other mobile devices, such as a camera or ‘flip cam’ and to send their photos by email if this is more convenient for them.