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International mobile operators Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) is collaborating with Philippine telecommunications giants Globe, Smart Telecommunications, and Sun Cellular for mobile education.
“What we're trying to do here in the Philippines with our three GSMA members Globe, Smart, and Sun Cellular is really [to use] the Philippines as a proving ground for what the power of mobile education can do,” said Ronda Zelezny-Green, mEducation team Knowledge Manager of GSMA.
Green said that, globally, mobile education is still “a very nascent field” compared to other sectors like health care and the automotive industry. But they see much potential in the Philippines given that it is the SMS captial of the world.
The fact that the Philippines has a 115% penetration rate on mobile devices and that the number of smartphone owners has increased over the last two years also shows a great potential in using these devices for mobile education, said Adrian Godfrey, director of mEducation.
A multistakeholder partnership for sustainability
GSMA's aim is to help telcos initiate a multistakeholder project that addresses adoption barriers to pursue new opportunities of mobile education.
GSMA is hosting a workshop that involves the Department of Education (DepEd), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Digitel Mobile Philippines, Inc., Globe Telecom and Smart Communications, Inc. from September 24 to 25 to discuss the possibilities of mobile education.
“I think it's fair to say that we've woven in a lot of best practices that we've woven into the workshops,” Godfrey said.
“It's important thing to point out that this is not corporate social responsibility. This is not a nice thing to do. This is a sustainable solution we're putting together,” he said.
Telcos' individual efforts in harnessing mobile education like Globe's TEXT2TEACH and Smart's Alternative Learning System (ALS) was also seen as a good sign that the Philippines is ready to “take mobile education to the next level” by making it a part of the fabric of education in the country, Green said.
One of the hurdles that have to be overcome is the bridging of the technological gap among teachers, students, and parents. Some older teachers, Green said, see technology as a threat rather than a helpful tool.
Locally, there also is the problem of the lack of coverage in remote areas like mountains and coastal areas where education is also hard to attain.
Godfrey also said that mobile education's aim is not only to help in formal learning, but also in informal learning for out-of-school youth, for instance.
The ultimate aim of the GSMA workshop is to build a sustainable program that could possibly address these challenges through multistakeholder collaboration. — TJD, GMA News