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Mobile English Language Education In Rural India: The Current Landscape October 14, 2009 Ashley M. Evans. THE PROBLEM. The Problem. 1.4 billion people in India live on less than $1.25 a day (that’s roughly one-third of all the poor people in the world!)

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slide1

Mobile English Language Education

In Rural India: The Current Landscape

October 14, 2009

Ashley M. Evans

slide3

The Problem

  • 1.4 billion people in India live on less than $1.25 a day

(that’s roughly one-third of all the poor people in the

world!)

  • Almost 30% of the country’s rural population live in

poverty

  • Agricultural workers depend on unpredictable weather

patterns for their livelihood

  • English is the language of

business, government,

and commerce

  • For the rural poor, it's a

“gateway language” for

reaching the middle class

slide4

The Problem

  • Even so, less than 5% of India's population speaks

English

  • Rural public schools are under-staffed and under-

resourced

  • Teacher absenteeism is common
  • Many students cannot attend school every day
slide6

The Potential

  • India is the fastest-growing

mobile phone market in the

world

  • Large part of demand

coming from rural

consumers, who typically

earn less than $1,000/year

  • Subscriber base grew 48%

in 2008 to 347 million

customers

  • Cell towers rapidly going up

in the countryside

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123413407376461353.html

slide7

SO WHAT ARE

ORGANIZATIONS

DOING TODAY?

slide8

English Seekho

  • Launched through a partnership between education

company IL&FS and Tata Telecom

  • Service started up in August 2009, has had thousands

of sign- ups

  • Provides 5 minute audio English lessons
  • Multiple-choice questions and copies of lesson text

sent via SMS

  • Speech recognition

technology tests user's

English

  • Subscription 20 Rs/

month, plus airtime fees

  • Targeted at Hindi

speakers

Source: http://englishseekho.in/

slide9

Nokia Life Tools

  • Debuted in India in early 2009, rolling out later in Asia

and Africa

  • Graphical interface for content, which is fed into

device by SMS

  • As well as English, offers news, agricultural updates,

market prices for farmers

  • English tips, grammar/vocabulary lessons, quizzes
  • Provides

explanations/translations

in local language

  • Currently available for

10 Indian languages

  • Subscription costs 30 Rs

to 60 Rs per month

Source: http://dinamehta.com/blog/2009/08/30/raju-go-and-get-some-bakery-mobile-innovations/

slide10

MILLEE

  • MILLEE: Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy

in Emerging Economies

  • Currently in pilot versions
  • Berkeley-based team of CS researchers
  • Text, audio, and graphical elements
  • “Lesson screens” teach English words and grammar
  • “Tests” as games – matching, spelling, or navigation

challenges similar commercial video games

  • Games require

electricity, but no extra

airtime/fees

  • Only works on a single

phone model

  • An extra challenge for

the designers: Indian

games differ from

Western games

Source: http://blog.babbel.com/cell-phone-learning-can-make-a-difference-matthew-kam-on-a-game-based-approach-for-english-learning-in-india/

slide12

Perspectives

Reason for Pause...

  • How well do low-tech voice-recognition technologies

really work?

  • Can needy families afford English lessons, even low

cost ones?

Questions to Pursue

  • What is best pricing model (subscription? One-off fees?

Free?)

  • Are games-based design or traditional test formats

more effective?

  • How to ensure students' literacy levels are sufficient?
  • Can mobile learning stand on its own without formal

schooling?

slide13

Selected Bibliography

Bellman, Eric. "Rural India Snaps Up Mobile Phones." The Wall Street Journal. 9 Feb. 2009. <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123413407376461353.html>

"Cell Phone Learning Can Make a Difference--Matthew Kam on a game-based approach for English learning in India." babbelblog. 27 Feb. 2009. <http://blog.babbel.com/cell-phone- learning-can-make-a-difference-matthew-kam-on-a-game- based- approach-for-english-learning-in-india/>

English Seekho. http://englishseekho.in/

Mehta, Dina. "Raju, Go and Get Some Bakery--Mobile Innovations."  Conversations with Dina. 30 Aug. 2009. <http://dinamehta.com/blog/2009/08/30/raju-go-and-get- some-bakery-mobile-innovations/>

MILLEE.  <http://www.millee.org/>

Nokia Life Tools.  <http://www.nokia.co.in/explore- services/nokialifetools>

"World Bank Updates Poverty Estimates for the Developing World." Research at the World Bank. 3 Nov. 2008. <http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/E XTRESEARCH/0,,contentMDK:21882162~pagePK:641654 01~piPK:64165026~theSitePK:469382,00.html>