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Paying Homage to Smart Devices in Light of Upcoming National Pencil Day

It was 156 years ago this month that Hymen Lipman had a great idea come to life—combining a wood-cased pencil with a built-in eraser. This invention was quickly embraced by classrooms and offices worldwide, making it possible for students, engineers, mathematicians, architects and pretty much everyone else to write and erase with a single device – efficiency at its finest.

Working at Qualcomm, I can’t help but draw parallels to how today’s always-connected, multi-function smartphones and other mobile devices have forever changed the way people work and how they are driving new opportunities in education.

On February 19th in Nairobi, Qualcomm Wireless Reach™ announced our participation in the Power of mLearning in Kenya project. Using 3G-enabled tablets to improve learning outcomes, Embakasi Garrison Primary School students in seventh and eighth grade (standard 7 and 8) are preparing for their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) exams.

A total of 250 students and all of the school’s 35 teachers have received individual tablets that include 3G mobile connectivity from Safaricom and access to an eLearning application developed by eLimu Learning Company. The application’s content is digitized from paper-based approved curriculum and enhanced with animations, songs, games and quizzes that make learning more interactive, interesting, fun and locally relevant. eLimu’s full platform also includes extended learning content that focuses on responsible citizenship.

Understanding the importance of collaboration, Wireless Reach is working with the Kenya Ministry of Education to align the project with national objectives to ensure equitable access, attendance, retention, attainment and achievement in education, science, research and technology. For an in-depth study of the project’s outcomes and impacts, iHub Research is using ruggedized Motorola tablets made appropriate for field work. And to reduce pressure on the school’s electricity supply, bboxx Kenya is providing a solar solution in order to provide power to charge the tablets as needed.

“We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.” ~ Marshall McLuhan. This is an inspiring quote by an academic visionary. I can only hope that as access to mobile devices and connectivity continues to grow, all children who still only use pencils, paper and books to learn can benefit from the power of mobile and perhaps go on to invent even more groundbreaking tools.

For more information on the “Power of mLearning in Kenya” project, please see our case study here.

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