By Shaaban Fundi,
I was in a meeting yesterday and what came up in the agenda? Cell phone use in the classrooms. I was like, are these people out of their minds or what? I have heard a lot of ideas tossed up in these meetings before but none had made my mind to start racing and thinking like this one. The potential benefits are vast and the cost of implementation would be very low. After a careful analysis of the pros and cons of having cell phone as technology support for the best practice delivery of instruction, I came to the conclusion that it might as well be a very good idea indeed.
Have you thought about what a cell phone (smart phones) can do these days? My goodness!! Other than the obvious uses of cell phones like communication during emergency situation, cell phones are more like computers, you can search the World Wide Web to complement course instruction, you can use them for gizmos, tests, instructional videos, quizzes, polling purposes and the potential usage are limitless.
In addition, cell phones are much cheaper comparing to computers—for countries like Tanzania this would be very cost effective. It could potentially be a game changer in terms of technology catch up for Tanzania. It could eliminate the need to go through the computer age to catch up with other nations. Instead of buying computers for each school, you can cut the cost tremendously by buying cell phone mobile labs for each school, cutting the cost for shipping huge computers and the cell phones would provide the same experience as computers.
There are a few pitfalls of cell phone use in classrooms. Some people say it might create an environment that would be conducive for students to cheat during testing. For example, students could easily Google for answers while testing. Classroom management especially for issues like texting, sexting, and cyber bulling can potentially be difficult to manage for the seasoned and the less seasoned educators alike.
What do you think about adopting cell phone technology in the Tanzanian education system? Will it work and save money that the government does not have? What do you foresee to be the main challenges? Opportunities?
Till then, Take care!!!
6 thoughts on “Cell phones could help fill the technology gap in Tanzania classrooms.”
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Abdul, You’re indeed right in your views. If you read most of my previous commentary on the state of the education system in Tanzania, you will obviously see that I put a lot of emphasis on the quality of teachers, conducive learning environment and tech encorporation in the delivery of instruction.
Yes, we have a long way to go…..but taking small incremental steps is better than not doing it at all. I do understand that the problems are overwhelming….it is daunting to actually figure out where to start. We need to start somewhere if we’re ever going to make the transition that is needed to be a competitive populace.
Your points are valid and contributes to the discussion. It is a tough discussion but it is worth having.
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thank you for the good ideas that you have introducing brother,but i think we should think on how to innovate these what we call local medias of instruction such as teachers,curriculum,books,because all these are what can shape the kind of medias to be used in the implementation and achieving what we call quality education,i think the designers of curriculum and instructions of teaching should focus on how to create environments that will need students to involve them selves in the use of these modern media(technology) such that of mobile for learning,but still these local medias are facing lot of problems,thinking about modern means of instructional technology yes it is more fast and reliable in some cases it , also it depends on the teachers level of understanding over these matters because we don’t expect student to learn what they have not experienced so we need to invest on preparing the teachers who have a critical if not enough knowledge on ICT then other things follows without problem,i agree that the idea of using mobile or cell phone in our schools as means of learning is quit good but,still we have to invest on matters that will facilitate that to take place.
Thanks for your comments Kai. The points you raised are all valid, but lets look at my views in supporting the adoption of cell phone tech to fill up the tech gap in Tanzania. The cell phone penetration in Tanzania is at 30-37% right now, it was 25% in 2006. Assuming those numbers were not overexagurated, it means 12-15 millions Tanzanians have cell phones already. On the other hand, internet penetration through computers is at 3%. Therefore the one dollar a day argument does not hold water for cell phone purchases, it might be true for computers.
In addition, I am actually looking at the government providing those cell phone labs in schools in accordance to their 2020 vision: Tanzania Beyond Tomorrow, insteady of computers. I am in favor of the cell phones because we don’t have a good landline telephone coverage to connect those computers to the internet and also the computers are far too expensive.
I will advise you to read the Tanzania Beyond Tomorrow Vision in education that calls for intergration of ICT tech into schools.
In terms of the problems with students using the phone for other “extra curricula” activities—I think that will be easily overcomed by putting rules and regulations to govern the uses of these cell phone labs.
I think having a technologically capable population will open more doors for investors to put their money in Tanzania. As it stands now, we are not ready to do that and that reduces our competitiveness in the global market. We need the investment for the money to trickle down into other areas like sustainable development, poverty eradication, and health issues that you are passionate about.
Thats how I see it.
In a society where technology can easily be misused this might not be such a good idea Shaaban. Why? Students will see this as an opportunity to get involved in other ‘extra curricula’ activities the consequences of which we do not want to discuss. We may end up with a society full of single parent moms, unemployed youth etc just to name a few.
two, with such level of poverty, what incentive would a person earning less than a dollar per day have to keep a cellphone let alone buy it in the first place?
I think our priority goals should now be in the areas of sustainable development, poverty eradication, health issues among other things. We will be getting way ahead of ourselves to even start considering technology!
My thoughts. Kai