Thursday, July 23, 2009

Students in Africa, Europe To Pioneer Learning Together Via SMS

Students from around the world will be able to learn together by using SMS in the new school year 2009-2010. An IICD supported Global Teenager Project will experiment with using SMS to ensure that schools without internet access can also participate in one of the world's largest online learning programmes.

Although the Global Teenager Project was already widely spread throughout the world, the programme was only accessible for schools with access to the internet. Through the internet, classes around the world ask each other questions about a certain theme (such as 'politics in my country', 'teen life' and 'how HIV/AIDS affects the world') that they also talked about in class. This way they earn from each others cultures. With the new SMS component, it is now also possible for schools in rural areas with very limited or no access to the internet at all to participate in the project.

Participating schools work together in learning circles. These circles consist of groups of 8 to 12 classes throughout the world that work together on one theme by asking each other questions. "This asks for a slightly different approach," says Bob Hofman, coordinator of the Global Teenager Project. "Students have to write shorter sentences when they ask questions and introduce themselves. And yes, even for students in schools where there is internet, this way of mobile learning could be useful, because they can now speak to their peers from remote areas they would otherwise not be able to speak to."

Goal for the school season 2009-1010 is to have two learning circles that run completely or partially on SMS. The first countries that will use SMS for learning in the Global Teenager Project are most likely Zambia, Ghana, South-Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada, Romania and the Netherlands.

International Institute for Communication and Development

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