Did you know that nearly half a billion of the next mobile subscriptions will come from Sub-Saharan Africa? That’s right. Talk about potential! What an exciting thing to welcome new African participants to the world of mobile—a world I am able to introduce to new users through my social impact efforts for Qualcomm Wireless Reach.
As a program manager for Wireless Reach, I recently visited our mobile education program in Kenya. Since 2013, we’ve been collaborating with eLimu and other stakeholders to increase interest in utilizing wireless technology to enhance teaching and learning capabilities.
During the site visit, I was given the warmest welcome I have ever experienced or could have imagined. Draped in iconic and traditional Maasai clothing, handcrafted Kenyan earrings, bracelets and sandals, the more than 30 teachers who are implementing the eLearning program at Embakassi Garrison Primary School received me with traditional Kenyan song and dance, a true display of the genuine and intrinsically hospitable spirit that is ingrained in Kenyan culture.
This Wireless Reach funded mLearning program has been implemented during the last two consecutive school years, with the aim of assisting standard 7 and 8 students (equivalent to the middle school level in the U.S.) in their preparation for their final Kenya Certificate of Primary Education nationwide exam which provides their placement in secondary school.
Data from the study of the program’s impact was collected using donated Motorola ET1 tablets and through in-depth interviews with students and teachers, focus group discussions, pictures, and videos. In total, 167 students and 17 teachers were interviewed throughout the research period of two years and key results include:
- The research team found improved technology and ICT literacy by the students and teachers, as well as improved cognitive skills in the students as a result of using the mathematics workout program.
- Science and Math were found to be the most popular subjects to study using the tablets.
- At the end of the 2014 school year, 95 percent of standard 7 students liked using the tablets for learning.
- At least 90 percent of the students were revising more, with varying degrees, because of the tablets. (Revising is the Kenyan term for going through previous lessons learned in order to remember the various facts covered.)
- At one point in the interview period, 100 percent of the teachers affirmatively indicated that teaching had been made easier using the tablets.
- Teachers highlighted positive changes in the attitudes of students due to the use of tablets. Notably, students were: more active in class; more motivated; attentive and interested in learning; and looked forward to the lessons when the tablet would be used.
- Teachers confirmed that their personal technology literacy had increased since they started using the tablets.
In addition to funding the use of tablets in this specific school, our investment has enabled eLimu to create a free online learning resource platform that houses digital content for any student, teacher, or parent who is interested.
My visit was short, but given the spirited welcome I received and the optimistic results we have seen from the program thus far, there is no doubt that we are having a positive influence and changing the educational landscape. I’m excited to see what comes next for these students and teachers in Kenya and build upon lessons learned from our mEducation portfolio so we can continue to extend our reach and impact in Kenya and globally.
Myself (seated, center) and all of the Embakasi Garrison school staff.
A Standard 8 student at Embakasi Garrison demonstrates the use of his tablet in the classroom.