Cell phones and sakai increasing access for all
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Cell phones and Sakai- increasing access for all? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Cell phones and Sakai- increasing access for all?. Laura Czerniewicz Director, Centre for Educational Technology University of Cape Town. Designing for access for all. The future is already here - it’s just unevenly distributed (William Gibson)

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Cell phones and Sakai- increasing access for all?

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Cell phones and Sakai- increasing access for all?

Laura Czerniewicz

Director, Centre for Educational Technology

University of Cape Town

Designing for access for all

The future is already here - it’s just unevenly distributed (William Gibson)

Access in the broadest sense necessary for social and educational inclusion

The challenge is designing engagement with Sakai for all:

Digital “natives”


digital “strangers”

The changing terrain: cell phones

Cell phones as a trend and opportunity being recognised in developed and developing country contexts

Horizon Report 2009

PEW Internet Report 2009

Studies on mobiles/mobile internet in SA

Studies on access and use in SA

PEW: The Mobile Difference

  • Wireless connectivity has drawn many users more deeply into digital life

  • Motivated by Mobility: Five groups in this typology – making up 39% of the adult population – have seen the frequency of their online use grow as their reliance on mobile devices has increased

  • Stationary media will do: The remaining 61% of the adult population does not feel the pull of mobility – or anything else – drawing them further into the digital world. Across the five groups that make up this part of the population, several have a lot of technology at hand and have seen their tech assets grow in recent years.

South African context

ITU/World Bank 2005

CET studies on access and use

A research project on access and use started in 2004

mixed-method approach

twelve universities in South Africa


Phase 1 & 2 - two surveys of 10 110 students in total (undertaken in 2004 and 2007)

quantitative analysis of 58question survey

qualitative analysis of the questionnaire’s open-ended questions

Phase 3 student interviews (2009) – preliminary findings

Survey of Vula (2008)

The digital divide

  • On-campus, access is fair and equivalent

  • Off campus, the digital divide is firmly in place

The digital divide

  • Off-campus access is varied and unequal

    Access by socio-economic group

2007 survey of South African university students

HE digital divide worsening

  • In some ways, the digital divide is becoming exacerbated at the extremes

    • Small (11%) but distinct group of South African students display characteristics of “digital natives” in that they have:

      • grown up with computers;

      • are independent when solving computer problems and learning new skills, and

      • draw extensively on their social networks.

    • But a significant group of student (22%) still lack both experience and opportunities, as they have:

      • been using a computer for less than 4 years; and

      • have no direct access to ICTs off campus.

2007 survey of South African university students

SA “digital natives”

  • Even gender mix

  • From high to average socio economic groups

  • Mostly speak English or Afrikaans speaking (74%)

  • Have excellent off-campus access at home often

    • multiple forms of off-campus access (inlc .portable)

  • Are confident of their own abilities

    • 81% rate their ICTs skills as good or excellent

  • Have high social use of ICTs

  • Are usually doing courses in science, engineering or health sciences

The “digital stranger”

  • More women than men

  • Largely South African (95%) with 80% speaking an African language as a home language.

  • 90% have no access to ICTs off campus

  • Those with off-campus access have very low practical access

  • Low self confidence

  • Mostly doing business degrees

  • Very low social use of ICTs

  • Mostly learn in formal structured ways

Rethinking the digital divide

  • However, in other ways, the digital divide is being reconstituted or bridged by cell phones

  • Consider cell phones

    • in general

    • In Higher Education

Cell phones in South Africa

  • Are a dominant way of communicating

    • South Africa has the third largest mobile internet using population in the world

    • South Africa ranks 6th in the global Top 10 for mobile internet usage

      • ahead of both the US (7th) and the UK (9th)

Cell phones in South Africa

  • Are cheaper than other options

    • Mobile internet in South Africa is among the least expensive in the entire world; traditional desktop access is still among the most expensive

  • A respondent:

    we pay 5 Rand ($.60) for 30 minutes, while here I can use 1 rand for the whole day without having to leave my stall

Cell phones and youth

  • Are being prioritised amongst youth of all backgrounds

    • Within a low-income black South African youth at an urban township

      • The majority (83%) access the Internet via their phone on a typical day

      • About half of all these individual’s expenses are spent on cell phones

Kreutzer 2009 survey of low income South African youth

Cell phone internet

Might be the only viable option available

Can also be a choice

Learning computers is expensive and needs time. I do not have time and money, so why waste what I have when I can do in this [mobile] what I can do on computer?

I cannot stand computers because of the many upgrades requiring more learning…. The mobile phone is the new computer, and it has the advantage that I have it on me all the time. It is even easier to type on it

Cell phones in higher education

  • Cell phones are pervasive amongst students

    • Ownership is

      • ubiquitous (98.5% in 2007)

      • not socially differentiated

2007 survey of South African university students

Students – value of phones

  • Are valued

  • I can’t live without my cell phone. My whole life revolves around it

  • My phone is….exciting… total independence

  • I couldn’t live without…a cell phone…. it has become so close to me

  • My mobile is my soul

2009 interviews with South African university students

Cell phones and LMS users

  • Being used for learning

    • 72% using their cell phones for academic only or academic and personal use

    • 6.8 percent (287 students) access the LMS on their cell phones/PDAs/mobile devices

  • Of those using cell phones for vula access

    • Many more students accessing vula by cell phones from off campus than on

    • Slightly fewer females than males access vula by cell phone

    • Biggest grouping accessing by cell phone from Commerce Faculty

  • Vula 2008 survey

Cell phones and LMS users

  • Students want better integration

    • They want better access to LMS via their cell phone,

    • They say they would make more use of the LMS if they could access it (at all and/or easier) from their cell phones

  • Because

    • Cell phone internet is for convenience… I wouldn’t have to go to a lab or find a laptop to check my email

    • I can download things onto my phone…or I can use my phone as a modem

    • The phone is cheaper … the amount of money I use to surf the internet, I can spend the whole night on the internet and spend less than R5, so it’s cheaper than the computer labs

  • Why cell phones and learning?

    I use my phone…, especially for accounting, because he's [the lecturer] very fast. He explains so fast. So I just record sometimes when I feel that I'm tired.. my brain cannot concentrate anymore.. I just record. And then I'll come and listen later.

    You can communicate with fellow students and get instant help with projects and assignments. You can access it [the LMS] anywhere (even from your cell phone).

    2007 survey of South African university students - qualitative data

    Why cell phones and learning?

    When it comes to assignments if I’m getting stuck, or I’m at home and I’m getting stuck, I just use my cellphone to go to google

    You can use your phone via google. Maybe I don't have time for a computer. Or maybe it's late, and the assignment must be submitted. Then I use my phone

    2007 survey of South African university students - qualitative data

    Cell phone use for studying

    % of cell phone time spent for academic purposes

    2007 survey of South African university students

    Cell phones bridging the digital divide

    • Provide a bridge for students with poor conditions of access

      • For example a small specific cluster of students

        • From low socio-economic groups

        • Difficult conditions of access on campus

        • Off campus access is difficult or very difficult

        • Poor practical access (share off campus computer with > 4 people)

      • Used cell phones often and for academic purposes

    2007 survey of South African university students

    Cell phone internet

    Access to Internet by cell phone (544 students) by socio-economic group (SEG)

    • For students from low socio-economic groups, their primary means of internet access is by cell phone

    2007 survey of South African university students

    Cell phones and access for all

    • Only shared device between students with varying levels of access

      • For high access students

        • it is one part of a range of tools at their disposal

        • is an expected part of the suite

        • multiple access

      • For low access students

        • it is their primary means of access to the internet

        • it may be an “in” to computers

    Overcoming dichotomies






    Mobile internet use means old dichotomies no longer apply

    Value for “digital stranger” and for “digital native”

    Need to research current student use of Sakai via cell phone

    Explore & pilot possibilities

    Design Sakai interfaces for cell phones

    Thank you


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