Sunday, September 19, 2010

e-Portfolios in Developing Countries (using mobile phones)

I received this "feel good" email:
I am deeply grateful for the excellent articles you have posted on e-portfolio on your website.  You would not know the great service you are providing to less fortunate educators in Third and Developing World that are not as nearly as priveleged as people in the developed world.  At the moment I am doing a course (Masters in Instructional Technology and Design) with the Open University of Malaysia.  One of the courses, involves the preparation of a e-portfolio as a final project.  I was just about reaching a point of frustration, because I did not know exactly how to set about doing this project.  I clustermate of mine who is also involved in the program, referred me to your Website, and you took care of my problems.  You are really a genius, professor.  Your knowledge is vast.  What is even greater, is your unselfish resolution to publish make such a rish deposit available to us the less fortunate.  Words cannot expess my gratitude.  May I encourage you to keep up the good work, and never falter in the work you are doing for the less fortunate, for you shall reap a rich reward in due season.  You are truly a missionary to poor countries.
P.S:  Do you have anything on the use of mobile phone text messaging (SMS) to teach children who are functionally illiterate.  My final thesis is in this area, because the population of Jamaica is appox 2.7 million people, with 2.4 million Mobile phone users, yet they have banned its use in many schools for some of the same reasons it is banned elsewhere.  My purpose is to show that the technology or tool can be used constructively.
Of course, I am flattered by the kind comments. His P.S. raises concerns about access to the Internet in developing countries. I received this comment in a message from Trent Batson, AAEEBL's Executive Director:
...we heard a woman from Guatemala lamenting that few kids have Internet access but "everyone has cell phones."  Not smart phones, yet, but at least that's doable for places like Guatemala.
I've also been communicating with educators from Egypt to Brazil, and because of the lack of connectivity, I often write to them about implementing ePortfolios with tools we were using in the late 90s. (I read a recent report about the high cost of Internet access in developing countries compared to average monthly income.) But the universal connectivity tool is the cell phone. My granddaughter updates her Facebook status here in the U.S. from her cell phone (not a smart phone). I want to learn more about connectivity from cell phones with online generic tools used to develop ePortfolios, such as GoogleApps and WordPress. I know it is possible with smartphone apps, but most of the developing world is using SMS. I will do another post soon about the iPhone Portfolio apps I have been collecting.


Larry Cuffe said...

I can see the application of mobile phones, particularly those with cameras to documenting students work.
I can also see them as useful for documenting the achievements of students who may not yet have crossed theliteracy threshhold.
Otherr than that I am aware of one course, an apprenticeship in bricklaying where the tutor has made up short instructional videos's which he distributes to the student on a mobile phone memory card and which allows them to work independently. This is a model which could work for distributing educational material in an envioronment with poor infrastructure.

tmolnar said...

Even in a developed country the use of mobiles seems rich with opportunity, in the manner that you have mentioned Larry.

In Canada on many First Nation's reserves there often are not the ubiquitous presence of computers/cameras and the like, but almost everyone has a cell phone.

Also in Western Canada there are often very large distances to be covered (rural areas) between such reserves.

Has me thinking anyway.

faizahamed said...

Thank you for writing this article in terms readers can actually understand. This topic can be confusing, but you made it so clear that I am glad I landed here.

Faiz Ahamed