OnQ Blog

What will Mobile Technology Transform Next?

Feb 6, 2014

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Two weeks ago I attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. As a Forum delegate for the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to engage in great discussions with other participants in an effort to find new ways to improve the state of the world.

This year, technology became a central point of discussion as a catalyst for social good, marking a significant shift in the conversation. Throughout meetings and speakerships at the event, mobile technology was recognized across the board for its prevalence at all levels of society, as it was for its adoption and resulting impact on multiple industries, including education, health care, government, and more.

Some of the most thought-provoking conversations I had in Davos this year focused on the impact of technology on education. Education reform is a top priority for most countries today, as there is a direct correlation between higher quality education and increased GDP. In fact, researchers who have studied adolescent students in more than 40 countries found that if the quality of education improved even slightly, children born in 2010 could boost GDP by $115 trillion during the course of their lifetime.1

During these conversations, representatives from around the world shared their inspiring efforts to transform their educational approach with mobile technology. Governments are working with teachers, schools, content developers, and other institutions to launch new trials where tablets are introduced to public classrooms. Businesses are incentivizing higher education for their employees by offering significant subsidies to cover the costs of obtaining specialized degrees through online courses.

As part of our education initiative at Qualcomm, we are pushing for the ecosystem to support safe, affordable, equitable 24/7 learning, but we realize that this is a complicated initiative that involves many stakeholders. Moreover, there are substantial barriers and challenges to effectively using these new technologies in the classroom. The consensus, after many discussions among delegates, was that we all want to see the field of mLearning succeed; but as with many emerging fields, we can’t do it alone. This is a massive task that—if we want to really make a difference in the education sector—needs to be addressed on multiple fronts.

The ever-changing global economy requires an innovative approach to education that reaches more children and does so in a more effective and efficient manner than ever before. Areas of focus should include modernizing systems and infrastructure with seamless, 24/7 access across multiple networks as a focal point; funding programs and curricula that have proven results of engaging students with different learning styles; and training teachers so they are comfortable with new instructional models that emphasize active learning rather than passive assimilation.

While improving and creating new models to deliver education is not a new topic of discussion in the world, we are in a unique position as a society at this moment in time to move the needle. Not only is there a more universal consciousness about the critical importance of education, but we now have more technologies—such as LTE and small cells —that can really make a difference in transforming 24/7 learning. 

I look forward to continued engagement with other world leaders and the World Economic Forum to explore new opportunities to improve the state of the world and particularly education.


1 McKinsey

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Peggy Johnson

Executive Vice President, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and President, Global Market Development