New Intel chip, to help progress with Africa

Intel brings out a new chip to help with efforts to roll out technology to Africa:

http://mashable.com/2013/01/25/intel-yolo/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_source=Mashable&utm_medium=linkedin

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Why knowledge is important

Harvested knowledge has value:  Industry and academia have a lot in common, and this holds true in the mLearning arena.   The common factor is that information can be a powerful tool or asset for individuals, organizations, and countries.   Below are four parts to the Knowledge Management process which reinforces the concept of value:

“Knowledge Discovery may be defined as the development of new tacit or explicit knowledge from data and information or from synthesis of prior knowledge.

Knowledge Capture may be defined as the process of retrieving either explicit or tacit knowledge that resides within people, artifacts, or organizational entities.

Knowledge Sharing is the process through which explicit or tacit knowledge is communicated to other individuals.

Knowledge Application contributes most directly to organizational performance when it is used to make decisions and perform tasks.” (Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2010)

We have 4 processes here: how to get it, how to create it, how to share it, and how to use it.  The process of discovering, capturing, sharing, and using knowledge to make better decisions is known as the Knowledge Management (KM) process.  Each part of the process will pour downward until the information becomes managed knowledge which is no less than  intellectual capital to those that hold it.

No internet means no application:  The internet has been very helpful in making it easier to communicate and collaborate at lightning speeds.  The final process is called Application and has to do with making decisions or taking actions based upon the knowledge shared. This is a key pain point for underdeveloped areas of the world, where they have little action they can take due to information not being available to them.

Knowledge is power:  Industry is about building knowledge stores for operational stability and growth.  In the academic world it is about building access to information, knowledge and collaboration.  Access to knowledge and the application of it provides growth and leverage over competition. We can see how undeveloped nations with little or no means to access information will stay at the bottom of the competitive world market.

Keep solution simple:  There is need for solutions to the digital divide, but how do we build and implement this?  The solution we choose should be as simple and straight-forward as possible.  “If the system is complex, no one will bother learning how it works” (Campbell, 2011).   It should be easy to learn and easy to use so we can get users up and running quickly and in a confident manner.  When considering ease of use you should also consider if an application is fairly portable across platforms, operating systems, and hardware, including mobile based functionality.   The more stability we introduce the better.

 

References:

Becerra-Fernandez, I., & Sabherwal, R. (2010). Knowledge Management Systems and Processes. Armonk, London: M.E. Sharpe.

Campbell, S. J. (2011, June 28). Knowledge Management Tools Play Important Role in Information Sharing. Retrieved September 12, 2011, from TMCnet.com: http://www.tmcnet.com/channels/knowledge-management/articles/191299-knowledge-management-tools-play-important-role-information-sharing.htm

The need for KM in mLearning

Need for ICT:  In my last post I talked about Dr. Bornman and her article concerning Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and its application to Africa.   Specifically, it addressed the need for learning to be enabled in underprivileged areas.  A key part mentioned by Bornman is the needed ICT expertise to allow Africa to become “an information society.  This envisions a true infrastructure of broadband and mobile which provides the foundation for future learning processes and efforts to happen.

Need for KM:  This post will introduce other challenges we face.   We need a structured approach using Knowledge Management (KM).   ICT which we addressed above is a part of this KM process.  One of the big questions will be what infrastructure is required to support KM to help facilitate the needed learning, sharing, and growing.   We can also look at what enablers are needed for this global learning solution.  There are physical components, just as there are cultural and educational components:

“First, let us take a step back and look at the enablers of knowledge management (KM). According to Botha et al (2008) these are:

  • Culture: One which is supportive of knowledge management, and the processes it implies – particularly knowledge sharing.
  • Infrastructure: Support systems, teams, structures, and collaboration.
  • Measures: Developing a process and design for managing change.
  • Technology: Can offer great advantages in certain areas. Similarly, if misused, it can sabotage the KM process. Whether technology deserves its status as an enabler is debatable, but it is nonetheless important.

According to the authors, these aspects are what make KM possible.” (Frost, 2010)

IT is part of the package:  Frost is telling us that technology is a big part of the puzzle whether we call it an enabler or not.   When we start to envision the kind of educational system and solutions we need, we will realize there are many parts to the equation.

A managed approach:  What kind of enablers, or knowledge processes do we need?   What kind of sources do we use to find knowledge or create new knowledge?   It is not as simple as connecting isolated parts of Africa (for example) to the internet, and calling the job done.   We will need a managed system to ensure that educational objectives are met to provide the advantages that are needed.   Will we have open forums, collaborations, and how often do these occur?   What educational applications are best suited for instructional delivery?   As we ask these questions we will see the need for a managed approach to ensure best results.

ICT + IM = KM:  ICT and Information Management (IM) are enablers of KM.  Kruger and Johnson studied this in South Africa at a University infrastructure supporting collaboration.   Their research shows how IM and ICT allow a better managed successful implementation:

“According to Kruger & Snyman (2005), this means that for knowledge to be adequately managed organizations must progress to the point where they are able to manage knowledge as a strategic resource and ICT and information management as enablers to KM”.  (Kruger & Johnson, 2010)

This is probably a good place to conclude the introduction to this topic on how KM helps us manage our quest for educational solutions.  This is true even when dealing with remote and mobile learning endeavors.   More posts will follow on ICTs, collaboration, KM processes, and many other topics that impact successful mobile educational delivery.

Ref:

Frost, A. (2010). Summary: Knowledge Management Best Practices. Retrieved 11 11, 2012, from An Educational KM Site: http://www.knowledge-management-tools.net/KM-best-practices.html

Kruger, C., & Johnson, R. D. (2010). Information management as an enabler of knowledgemanagement maturity: A South African perspective. International Journal of Information Management, Volume 30, Issue 1, Page 57-67.

Challenges in reducing the Digital Divide

In February of this year I was taking an Ethical Issues course in my Master’s program, taught by Dr. Ellen Raineri.   I remember with great interest an article that was written that same month by Curt Kolcun, the VP of Microsoft’s Public Sector, addressing educational challenges and mobile solutions.   He wrote on how technology can make a difference in these challenges. The point that I found most interesting was that “always-on mobile devices” are bringing us to the internet now, and “35 percent of American adults own a smartphone and that the young, African-American and/or Hispanic demographic groups – all groups that the digital divide has hit hard – show a higher than average use of smartphones” (Kolcun, 2012).

The article gives examples of how accessibility is starting to overcome distance, dollar and other barriers as we will continue to see more free online distance learning than ever before. The real positive take on this though is that we are starting to see an even playing field now in accessibility, usability, and culturability.

“Culturability is a term we use to emphasize the importance of the relationship between culture and usability in WWW design, but it can be expanded to apply to any software designed for international use” (Barber & Badre).  As we break down barriers from English-language-only and high-income-only, we will see growth in all new arenas.

As I progressed through my Master’s program to graduation this past summer, I remember reflecting on this article many times.  It has brought me to a purpose I believe, which is to study, learn and gain skills in the mobile and m-learning arena, and to apply this for the good of mankind.  In particular, for the good of those where distance learning has been elusive so far.

This brings me to my present state which is one of amazement at how large the world of mobile learning really is.   I am actually excited at the prospect of our finding ways to help our world; however I also can see this won’t be quick and easy.   Today I just finished reading an excellent and illuminating journal article by Elirea Bornman that sheds light on Africa’s similar predicament.  Though similar, it appears to have other complications such as lack of electrical resources, and total lack of broadband in some areas.  This could mean m-learning can bring about some initial solutions, but without the normal broadband infrastructure we could see a slower educational reform.   This is a long and excellent article by Dr. Bornman on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and application to Africa.   I will include below small portions of her article that speaks directly to my heart, along with some of my own views and summation.  My own asides or excursions from the actual text are in “()” rounded brackets below to set them off from the main article.

“The mobile phone has quietly come to provide access to electronically mediated communication to people at the bottom of the income pyramid – often for the first time in their lives.

However, despite these promising developments, more than 70 percent of the world’s population – and more than 80 percent of people living in developing countries – do not have internet access yet and even fewer have access to broadband internet.

Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing a noteworthy deterioration in their relative position with regard to trade, investment, production and consumption. Castells (2000) ascribes this state of affairs predominantly to the region’s social exclusion from the information highways of our world.

(My take on the above paragraph … is that there is a need for improvement in Africa, and there is a need for m-Learning at this time.  I do not mean to say that it is the end-all or sole solution, but it can be a central part in our goal to alleviate the educational deficit in these remote or underprivileged areas.  Let me add that there is also a need throughout the world, not just in Africa.  The point that begs to be made is that the educational deficits existing today speak loudly as to why this is not something to be quickly or easily dismissed.  Dr. Bornman also explains in this article how Africa has a wide gap between the wealthy and educated, and those without.  She offers logical reasons why the very absence or limitation in internet for remote areas seems to compound the educational issues we are needing to address.)

Electricity also poses less of a barrier as minimal facilities are needed to load a mobile phone battery. Thus it appears that the mobile phone is already serving and could in future serve to be the first step for many Africans to access the information society.

As mobile phones cannot offer the full range of complex functions offered by broadband internet via computers (yet), it is doubtful whether they can serve as a short cut to the information society. Making use of complex devices furthermore requires a highly educated population that has developed advanced ICT skills and the existence of a relatively high percentage of knowledgeable labor within a society.

(I think the above points out that though m-Learning is not going to level the playing field, it will at least assist with the issues if we can offer appropriate skill training to give them a head start.  This will need to be provided by m-Learning, e-Learning, technical and educational areas of expertise.)

There is consequently no shortcut for Africa to becoming an information society. Bridging the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world (still) requires the roll-out of the infrastructure for the use of computers (e.g. electrification) and for fixed-line broadband access (fiber-optic cables); the broadening of access to mobile broadband; the implementation of policies to bring costs even further down in order to be at least in line with the rest of the world; the advancement of ICT critical skills beyond the use of mobile phones; and – most importantly – a holistic approach towards advancing the quality of education in which technology is used in innovative ways, but the broader interplay of factors impinging on education are simultaneously addressed.”  (Bornman, 2012)

Conclusion from Lou:

As we can see… we indeed have digital divide issues in both America and Africa, and of course this entire world.  While rolling out the ultimate infrastructures is not going to be doable in all areas in the foreseeable future, we can and should address these concerns now with mobile technology.  There are many mobile and social solutions appearing every day, and some of the simplest approaches might make significant difference.  The topic of m-Learning as an aid to global educational inadequacy will be a frequent theme in this website.  Can we really do any less than to see and recognize these needs?  We cannot neglect these shortcomings when solutions are now at our doorstep. The very essence of mobility as the solution should help us to implement this worldwide.

References:

Barber, W., & Badre, A. (n.d.). Culturability: The Merging of Culture and Usability. Retrieved Feb 25, 2012, from National Institute of Standards and Technology : http://zing.ncsl.nist.gov/hfweb/att4/proceedings/barber/

Bornman, E. (2012). The Mobile Phone in Africa: Has it Become a Highway to the Information Society or Not? Contemporary Educational Technology, 278-292.

Kolcun, C. (2012, Feb. 21). Overcome the digital divide, and unleash the future. Retrieved Feb 25, 2012, from http://www.Microsoft.Com: http://www.microsoft.com/industry/government/state/brightside/detailBlog.aspx?title=Overcome_the_digital_divide_and_unleash_the_future

Advantages from the classroom…

So what is the big deal on m-Learning anyway?   As we progress over the coming months we will continue to reference sites that clearly explain this question, and will often touch on a central theme of the digital divide.

Today’s post will not deal with such a world view, but instead will take us on a quick visit to the classroom itself.

The following journal article I found particularly interesting because it gave issues facing classrooms in a way we can almost touch, see, and feel.  Like experiencing this while sitting among the students:

“Here are some of the main advantages:

  • Learners can interact with each other and with the practitioner instead of hiding behind large monitors.
  • It’s much easier to accommodate several mobile devices in a classroom than several desktop computers.
  • PDAs or tablets holding notes and e-books are lighter and less bulky than bags full of files, papers and textbooks, or even laptops.
  • Handwriting with the stylus pen is more intuitive than using keyboard and mouse.
  • It’s possible to share assignments and work collaboratively; learners and practitioners can e-mail, cut, copy and paste text, pass the device around a group, or beam the work to each other using the infrared function of a PDA or a wireless network such as Bluetooth.
  • Mobile devices can be used anywhere, anytime, including at home, on the train, in hotels – this is invaluable for work-based training.
  • These devices engage learners – young people who may have lost interest in education – like mobile phones, gadgets and games devices such as Nintendo DS or PlayStation portable.
  • This technology may contribute to combating the digital divide, as this equipment (for example PDAs) is generally cheaper than desktop computers.”  (Nassuora, 2012)

Ref:

Nassuora, A. B. (2012). Students Acceptance of Mobile Learning for Higher Education in Saudi Arabia. World Applied Programming, Vol (2), No (3), March 2012. 135-140.

Globalization of m-Learning will help developing countries

Just how much “m-learning” excitement exists today in the hands of educators is evident in what Michael Trucano writes in regards to the World Bank and globalization of education with new opportunities becoming apparent in developing countries:

“The theme of ‘m-learning’ appears to have ‘gone mainstream’ on the international conference and workshop circuit, an increasingly default topic on the agenda of high level meetings meant to inform the thinking of key decision makers in the educational, technology and international development sectors.” (Trucano, 2012)

I wanted to share this article by Trucano so we could sense this excitement and anticipation.  It is not just about a new way of learning, but in many cases it is about finding the means to offer learning at all.

I hear the train a comin, and it is time for us to help underdeveloped countries to get on-board.  As we will see in the weeks to come, this is not about forcing or coercing, but about offering and sharing for the first time to areas in real need.

 

Ref:

Trucano, M. (2012, January 31). Mobile learning in developing countries in 2012. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from EduTech: A World Bank Blog on ICT use in Education: http://blogs.worldbank.org/edutech/mlearning-2012

Ubiquitous

When we are talking about M-Learning, what defines it?

Often connected with M-Learning is the word ubiquitous, which means “always present”.  It is not just in regards to place but also time.  Some synonyms for ubiquitous in terms of M-Learning include: far-reaching, global, accessible, public, and unconfined.

Put it all into the idea of’ education being delivered everywhere… with unlimited potential as technology continues to grow.