Feb 7, 2012
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While attending the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland a couple of weeks back, I was able to engage with people from all over the world and exchange perspectives on a wide variety of topics. I have long advocated that wireless is an ideal platform for advancing education and providing students with always on, always connected educational content. Mobile devices in the hands of students and teachers have the potential to dramatically improve educational outcomes by providing unprecedented access to learning resources.
While many people focus on the right tools to help students, I was reminded at Davos that making the proper training available for teachers is also a critical component to improving the quality of the educational system. I spoke with a Davos attendee from India who told me one of the biggest challenges they face is inconsistency in the quality of teachers across the country.
Fifty percent of children ages 6 to 18 don’t go to school in India, and those who do go lack access to well trained and experienced teachers. If all teachers were able to use mobile devices to access training materials easily and affordably, they would be able to provide the best quality educational experience to their students.
Something else to keep in mind: they are teaching the world’s next generation of doctors, scientists and engineers. So, the use of mobile as an educational tool for India is a very compelling proposition. Just last quarter, mobile broadband connections surpassed traditional fixed connections in India. This pervasiveness makes the mobile device an ideal platform to provide the training that teachers need.
Further, India is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with more than 20 official languages and, according to the United Nations, 363 million children ages 14 and under (that’s more than the entire U.S. population.) Imagine how challenging it is to provide all of those kids with updated and quality textbooks in 20 different languages.
We’re beginning to see countries such as South Korea embracing the power of tablets in education, but I believe the greatest educational value of these devices is in countries such as India where so many lack even the basic educational infrastructure that many of us take for granted.
Learning material that is living, participative and personalized for students; professional development and resources for teachers; innovative and informative videos; the ability for students to communicate and learn from each other — these are just some of the benefits we’ll see when emerging markets invest in advanced wireless technologies. Davos left me increasingly confident that we are on the precipice of a game-changing era for education. One that will change the way we interact with our learning content, our teachers, our students and each other in profound ways.
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