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Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about.

In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa ContextWhat is it about?
Institute for Information Systems and Computer Media Graz University of Technology margarete.grimus@aon.at Social Learning / Information Technology Services Graz University of Technology Martin.ebner@tugraz.at

Abstract: Mobile devices are changing the social, educational and economic situation especially in developing countries. Based on recent scientific publications, conference reports and educational blogs meaningful trends and critical challenges with reference to Sub Saharan Africa are explored in this meta-study. Since mobile phones are increasingly affordable and accessible this has become one of the most important topics concerning future education in Sub Saharan Africa. They are seen as key technology for bringing educational opportunities to even the most marginalized populations. The development of and the needs for education in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) differs arbitrarily from other parts of the world. M-learning is one of the most emerging fields. This publication articulates and summarizes the wider issues raised by using mobile phones to deliver and enhance learning for dispersed population in Africa, Finally the key issues for further developments are pointed out to address the future needs for educational strategies.

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1.1

Introduction
Background

To tackle educational challenges in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), systemic integration of ICT has been outlined as an opportunity for improving the quality of teaching and learning as well as expanding access to learning opportunities (UNESCO 2011). Secondary school attendance and completion rates in SSA are strongly influenced by poverty, location and gender (EFA, 2011). Mobile based solutions can help to compensate the lack of infrastructure; mobile devices offer access to educational content by providing access to knowledge through technology and are also one of the primary ways that youth interact with and learn from each other (NMC 2012, p.11). Furthermore access to learning material via mobile phones does not only support formal settings but is often the only chance for informal learning. While mobile phones become more capable students can get education into their own hands, options like informal education and online learning are reaching students who are not in the position to enter traditional educational settings (NMC 2012). Delivering education in SSA by using mobile phones is widely seen as a chance for change, because mobile networks are widely spread, and as learning device, the mobile phone has several key advantages. Especially, distribution channels are already in place and everyone knows how to use the device for basic interactions, people value their phones and more likely take good care of them. Due to the fact that phones are all the time be carried around by their owners, learning can take place anywhere. Furthermore the phones are also shared among family members, and people have the option of upgrading their mobiles anytime by switching their SIM cards. (Young, 2009, p.3)

1.2 Aims of the Study
Much of our current knowledge of m-learning practices is derived from experiences from OECD countries that may not be relevant developing countries in SSA. The objective of this paper is to explore and identify corresponding and influencing factors of m-Learning in SSA because they differ dramatically from those encountered by mobile

Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

learning practitioners around the world. In this publication a detailed look is done to various publications to get a closer insight and better understanding of relevant criteria concerning to SSA. Crucial enablers for mobile learning in the region of Africa and Middle East are named as following: the exponential growth in mobile phone subscriptions, demands in education development, and the potential of new technologies (mobile networks and internet) to address those demands. Barriers are a lack of awareness among decision makers (e.g. government), technical limitations (feature phones) and costs of device and subscriptions, and educational content (regarding technical limitations). (AME, 2012, p. 26) In this research work we want to resume different aspects reported in various publications regarding mobile learning to offer a basis for deeper understanding of the complexity of m-Learning in SSA. Outlined topics are clustered in accordance of the relevance and help us to address the key fields for future research.

1.3 Contributions to m-Learning in SSA
Scientific publications are mainly accessible through dedicated international conference series and educational blogs related to UNESCO, World Bank and other organizations supporting developments in SAA rather than in dedicated journals and scientific books. Actual information for this work is retrieved also from blogs of organizations, e.g. World Economic Forum, EduTech-Blog (World Bank-Blog on ‘ICT use in Education Transform Africa’) as well as publications edited by UNESCO, GMSA (Transforming learning through m-Education), and Conference-Reports from WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education), eLearning Africa (International Conference on ICT for Development, Education and Training), mLearn (World Conference on Mobile and Contextual Learning), and edutech-blog. (e.g. Trucano, 2012a) ‘Specific cultural, technological and organisational affordances of sub Saharan Africa are noticeably different from those of the ‘developed’ world (Traxler, 2006).

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2.1

Current Situation - Education and Mobile Learning in SSA
Education in SSA and Relevance for Mobile Learning

The Education For All (EFA) and Universal Primary Education (UPE) strategies can be seen as enablers towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Underpinning this is the need to monitor and manage school enrolment numbers at a local and national level. Fast increasing numbers of students on all levels of education are placing great demands upon the Ministries of Education (MoEST) in SSA. The challenges of teaching in Africa are large class sizes, un-trained or under-trained teachers with only a limited repertoire of pedagogies, a shortage of adequate materials for both teachers and pupils, and widespread adult illiteracy - besides general poverty and disease (Traxler, 2006; Acosta, 2012). Low income groups’ access to education is restricted by many factors including the cost of education and expectations that children may undertake child employment as well social barriers. (GSMA Report, 2011) 60% of all people in Africa are under the age of 24, many of them knowledgeable about new technologies (even the use of smart-phones) and becoming very demanding. This group is booming with lots of enthusiasm to explore and learn any technologies, learn fast and inquisitive. Mobile phones are still a more affordable technology than laptops or computers and often service providers offer subsidized packages to accommodate them. (Hoefman, 2011) Out-of-school-children and high drop-out rates is troubling the development of education in SSA in many ways. Mobile learning is seen to be a useful option to overcome some of the challenges, by offering the opportunity to return to education in a less formal way. Furthermore m-learning will also assist many students which are over-aged when enrolling or return to school after few years of absence, by offering modules and content which fits better to their specific demands. In rural areas, where girls drop-out often after short time they also find new chances for appropriate education. According to UNESCOS’s Mobile Learning Guidelines mobile technologies are able to expand and enrich educational opportunities for students in a diversity of contexts. ‘A growing body of evidence suggests that ubiquitous mobile devices – and mobile phones in particular – are being used by students and teachers around the world to access information (….) to facilitate learning in new and innovative ways. (PGML 2012, p.2) Due to the fact that mobile phones are the most widely used technology in Africa and more people have access to a phone than to a computer or even good quality educational materials this offers vast opportunities for m-Learning.

Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

2.2 Perspectives of Mobile Phone Usage for Education in SSA Using mobile devices to enhance the learning process as well as the learning outcomes is one of the common recommendations to approach the EFA and Millennium Goals. The cell-phone has been argued to be an appropriate device for educational delivery in the developing world; mobile learning methods hold great promise for both formal and informal learning. ‘m-learning has the potential to transform the face of education in Africa’. (Motlik, 2008) It is the information and communication technology of the masses due to the fact that amongst the youth of South Africa more than 90% own a mobile phone. Other technology options that might deliver learning are practically non-existent in SSA ‘The cell phone is the single most transformative technology for development’ (Sachs, 2009). Learners must be able to gain knowledge whenever and wherever they want to and mobile learning takes place when learners are motivated. “Learning can unfold in a variety of ways: people can use mobile devices to access educational resources, connect with others, and create content, both inside and outside classrooms” (PGML 2012, p.2) Traxler draws attention to the contrast of ‘the near-universal ownership and access to simple mobile phones, comprehensive, energetic and competitive mobile networks and poor infrastructure, including unstable mains electricity and poor broadband connectivity...’ that there is not one single point of view on learning and education. We have also to think on different impacts on communities, informal learning, mother tongues and indigenous knowledge (Traxler, 2011).

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Impact of General Issues

After studying a number of different scientific publications and reports the following categories can be carried out. Each research work was put into exactly one category to prepare a short overview about the main issues. 3.1 Mobile Networks and Subscribers in SSA

The first category is about the infrastructure. Publications are pointing to an occurring dynamism in emerging economies, where infrastructure largely didn't exist, especially outside urban centers, which is different from what people may find in Europe and North America (Trucano, 2012b). Over the past ten years, the number of mobile connections in Africa has grown an average of 30% per year (GSMA 2011). In Africa at the moment there live more users of mobile phones than in the USA. It has become a big business for mobile network operators (MNOs), who expect a billion subscribers in Africa in the nearest future. Subscribers might also represent a market for educational content, which forces interest in using mobiles to support and deliver learning in Africa amongst a wider world of agencies, corporate and ministries (Traxler, 2011). Lack of access to electricity has been overcome by many Africans, who charge their phones using generators available in local shops as well as solar panels and car batteries. Fierce competition in SSA has driven down prices and increased penetration. Operators have reduced their prices on an average of 18% between 2010 and 2011, making mobile connectivity more broadly affordable to the masses. 96% of subscriptions are pre-paid with voice services, however the uptake of data services is increasing rapidly. Internet access has been significantly boosted by improved mobile coverage and the launch of GPRS, EDGE and 3G technologies (GSMA 2011). The increasing availability of network access means that the growing capabilities of mobiles are available to more and more students in even more locations. In SSA it is common to own multiple SIM cards and swap them in and out of their phones as necessary to take advantage of favorable in-network and off-peak pricing structures. In opposite barriers are still the lack of electricity, illiteracy, language, privacy issues, gender, and concerns about security (e.g. phone theft). 3.2 Policies and Strategies in an Increasing Digital Age

The second category is deadline with policies and strategies. Especially education has become one of the biggest public enterprises in many countries in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), where the rate of population growth is higher than that of rate of educated teachers or distributed educational resources. In the light of the discussions about 21st century skills emphasis is laid on and can be figured out in national strategies and curricula, highlighting the role of digital skills and the role of ICT in learning and teaching.

Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

In ‘The First Mobile Learning Week” in Paris 2011 the topics of policy issues and teacher development were intensively discussed and pointed out as crucial places to break into the educational cycle to promote EFA (MLWR 2011). Many African governments have prioritized ICT policy as a key driver for educational development. These SSA countries are looking closely to ICT applications to help them to meet a myriad of challenges. A set of guidelines seeks to help policy makers to understand better what mobile learning is and how its unique benefits can be leveraged. A survey study on ICTs and education in 53 African countries in 2007 revealed that there is a great deal of variance in ICT policies for education among the African countries, especially countries that are in transition from a sustained period of conflict and economic instability (PGML 2012). Although these countries have developed or are in the process of developing some sort of ICT in education plans and policies, the implementation of these plans remains very dependent on the support of partners from the donor community and the private sector. (ICTeTSA 2012, p.12) ‘Competence is defined holistically as the possession and development of a complex combination of ICT-enhanced knowledge, skills and attitudes displayed in the context of task performance countries. ….. The development of these competences is supposed to progress developmentally from an initial stage of emerging through to the highest stage of transforming in terms of technology, pedagogy and content, with the context playing a pivotal role in the extent of the integration’. (ICTeTSA 2012, p.20) 3.3 General Mobile Learning Issues

The third category of publications deals with mobile Learning in general: • M-learning offers a solution to several of the key challenges mentioned above. It is inclusive and nondiscriminatory, it can be accessed from wherever the user wishes to learn, can be tailored to individual learning needs and can progress at each users’ own pace. A shift away from teaching in a classroomcentered paradigm of education to an increased focus on learning, which happens informally throughout the day is predicted in the paper ‘Think Piece on Education and Skills beyond 2015’, published by an United Nations task team (TTP 2012). A close affiliation between m-learning and basic skills in ICT can be drawn by thinking of ‘e-learning’ in the sense of ‘every-day-learning’. • M-learning can also help to overcome the gender inequality in many developing countries, by providing young women with a safe learning environment without leaving the household or community. This is significant in Africa where many divides and disparities exist. • Mobile learning practices in the developing countries differ dramatically from those encountered elsewhere by mobile learning practitioners. This grows out of infrastructures and societies and give mobile learning a considerable advantage over conventional e-learning measurements in the immediate future. Since there are still five times more mobile phone subscribers than internet users in Africa it is important to offer content in formats that is developed access with feature phones. • M-learning initiatives facilitate education and learning in even the most remote locations, and provide a supplement to areas where schools are sparse and access to education is limited. Current projects point to sustainable complementarities of methods and technologies (Traxler, 2006). • As mobile technologies continue to grow in power and functionality, their utility as educational tools is likely to expand and, with it, their centrality to formal education. For these reasons, UNESCO believes that mobile learning deserves the careful consideration of policy makers. (PGML 2012 p. 12) • Using a learner’s own device ensures that many of the features of the devices are well known and practiced, although some students may not have used or been aware of all features Students using devices other than their own require time not only to familiarize themselves with the device, but more importantly to ‘play around’ with the technology and personalize it for their own use (Oliver & Goerke, 2007). 3.4 Relevance for Teaching and Learning

This category is summarizing publications, which are pointing out the relevance for teaching and learning as well as didactical scenarios. Therefore the constraint of inadequate learning material and resources available to learners in developing countries has motivated an attempt to improve the education system. M-Learning implies inherently besides other facts- also a chance in a didactical approach. The learning potentials of mobile devices can help to address a number of pressing educational needs in new and cost effective ways. (PGML 2012 p.12)

Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Mobiles are streamlining education and improving communication between schools and teachers. Mobile learning, either alone or in combination with existing education approaches, is supporting and extending education in ways not possible before. An increasing number of initiatives – some large-scale, some small – are using mobile technologies to distribute educational materials, support reading, and enable peer-to-peer learning and remote tutoring through social networking services. Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning and collaborative models. Education platforms and social networks for learning through various resources are alternatives to the exclusive face-to-face learning models. Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. With the guidance of teachers, mobiles provide a medium for developing skills of digital and information literacy, as well as critical thinking and online communication skills. 3.5 Particular Initiatives and Projects

The final category is about reports of particular initiatives and projects due to the fact that mobile learning practice in developing countries are looking to exploit the technologies as effectively as possible and integrate them into education. Current projects point to sustainable complementarities of methods and technologies. Unique solutions have been developed to address barriers to large-scale adoption of m-Learning. Practice has evolved that is distinct from the established communities of e-learning and m-learning in the developed countries of Europe, North America and the Pacific Rim (Traxler, 2009). The majority of mobile learning projects were mainly initiated by individuals or organizations backed by private corporations or donor agencies, with fixed term and mainly small scale. Many of the projects were simply textbased: Downloading text is less costly than downloading images, which makes texting a more appealing form of communication, and downloading-cost considerations were especially important. Over years SMS and voice based applications have been successfully used in interactive mobile and health education programs. The TTC (Text To Change) project used text messages to encourage behavioral change and has approved that this approach was a highly effective communication channel for health education in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Cameron, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Hoefman, 2011). Most of the projects have taken place in South Africa: Nokia’s Mobile Mathematics (MoMath), Yoza Cellphone Stories, and Dr Math, which primarily use MXit, almost text-based chat platform project in South Africa (AME 2012). In the M-Pesa-project in Kenya SMS was used to support national in-service primary teacher training, another projects has exploited messaging in order to support and connect dispersed students. A wide range of recent surveys, reports and recommendations, founded by international organizations is available to help in planning and developing wider scale implementation of m-learning for sustainable solutions. One over-riding concern is the problem of moving projects and pilots into the mainstream of educational provision and finding secure and sustainable funding and support. It is still questioned why governments are not active in scaling up successful projects nationwide: Many pilots on m-learning activities have not materialized to ongoing impact generating programs, after funding ended most of the projects passed out. Development and delivery of most of the projects have focused on short-term small-scale pilots and trials. According to the World Bank, “there are still precious few widespread examples of the use of mobile phones for educational purposes inside or outside of classrooms in developing countries that have been well documented (Trucano, 2009). A Mobile Learning Curriculum Framework has been generated as a new project. It firms as a first attempt to systematically and comprehensively explore where and how mobiles should appear within educational provision. The curriculum is divided and sub-divided into a number of themes and related modules, to name the most important: to know about mobile learning, to be able to facilitate mobile learning and to understand the implications of implementing mobile learning. At the time of writing, the focus is directed on access, emerging contexts and basic technologies’ (Wilson et al., 2011).

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Discussion: Key fields for further Development of Education in SSA

Considering the categories of chapter 3 and a careful research it can be mentioned that the current state of education in SSA is mainly plagued by a lack of teachers, textbooks and funds. Classroom instruction and textbooks are still the primary methods used for formal teaching and learning in SSA.

Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

In Europe and North America mobile devices (mobile phones, iPads and tablets) are outpacing laptops and personal computers. Mobile learning in Africa can help to evolve formats that work across multiple platforms and generate new insights for taking advantage of mobile phones for learning and teaching. Wide scale introductions of mlearning in education systems in SSA is the chance for transformation of existing practices, if teacher education and in service-training is empowered to integrate new methods in education. 4.1 Teacher Education Secondary education and qualified teachers are prerequisites for increased economic growth and social development. This also means a necessity for digital and information literacy, as well as critical thinking and online communication skills. A major challenge is the need to rapidly increase the numbers of trained teachers as well as the improvement of the quality of the school system. IICBA (International Institute for Capacity Building) in Africa recognized in its strategic plan for 2011-2015, the major challenges facing teacher development in Africa are inadequacies in number and quality of teachers, deficient training curriculum, poor quality management and leadership, inadequacies in pedagogical research and difficult working conditions (ICTeTD 2011). The number of additional primary teachers needed to reach UPE (Universal Primary Education) figures out a demand of 2,687.000 teachers in SSA, that means a need for additional 1,115.00, to reach the goal in 2015 (based on numbers of 2009): There is a recruitment of 76,2 % needed (based on the teaching workforce of 2009 to 2015 (UIS/IS/2011/6, p.9). This number of teachers can't be educated in time by using current practices. There is a need to explore new and also non-traditional approaches; - technology use is fundamental to such new approaches. This focuses on implementation of m-learning in teacher education institutions (University education). With formal education traditionally emphasizing teaching more than learning, education systems have focused on the transfer of information and knowledge from the teacher to the learner. Recognizing that learning is increasingly happening individually beyond formal educational settings, the role of teachers will have to evolve from dispensers of information and knowledge to facilitators and enablers of learning. With the guidance of teachers, mobile technologies provide a medium for formal and informal learning and developing knowledge for millions of Africans who go online ‘mobile first’ or even ‘mobile-only’. Teachers should provide training and experience in research and information access skills, which are both essential skills for quality performance in education and lifelong learning (Traxler 2006). Challenges and possible solutions The ICTeTD Model is grounded in the belief that teaching has its own unique knowledge base, which, in the 21st century, is the technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK). ‘…. professional teacher development should not only go beyond programs that merely focus on training teachers in the operation of computers and ICT literacy per se, but should plan to work actively towards enabling African teachers to master ICT as an effective tool to improve teaching and learning.‘ (ICTeTD 2011, p. 11). The ICTeTSA report states that teacher standards that integrate ICT are either non-existent or poorly developed to meet the needs and contexts of African countries. (ICTeTSA 2012, p.12 ) In the ‘ICT-enhanced Teacher Development Model (ICTeTD) is emphasised, that teachers don’t have time to search for and assess the vast quantity of resources available on the Internet. Therefore it would be useful to select and compile the most relevant techno-pedagogical resources and provide them in adequate platforms, so that teachers can use them easily. The newly published ‘Model’ will serve as guide for IICBA’s interventions in African teacher education systems and offers a model for enabling African teachers to master ICT as an effective tool to improve teaching and learning and actually integrate their skills in day-to-day classroom instruction and beyond, how to use technology to transform their teaching with technology and create new opportunities for learning (ICTeTD, 2011, p. 11) 4.2 Learning material: Dearing material, e-textbooks, web based books

In many African countries textbooks are scarce and expensive; therefore in some cases they are seen as too valuable to use. Access to learning material that is needed to meet secondary curriculum specifications is very often out of reach for most of the students. There is – apart from universities and private schools- nearly no chance to use a laptop or computer at home or at a local library and available textbooks in libraries (if there are any) are very often outdated (content older than 10 years).

Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

A study referring to 38 countries on secondary textbook and school library provision in Sub-Saharan Africa figures out that in some countries no national approved textbooks are available (with significant variations in basic textbook requirements between individual schools). The high prices - besides poor availability- are seen in countries where parent purchase is the usual method of secondary textbook financing as another barrier. In general government rarely provides free education to secondary schools. Textbooks are potentially very significant parts of the parental cost burden, possession of a full set of basic textbooks is not usual (Tb&SL, 2008, p. 18) To reduce costs of textbooks lead to much less than desirable levels of textbook availability in many schools, which lead to a serious reduction in the quality of secondary education. (p. 19) The secondhand textbook market blurs imperceptibly into markets for pirated and stolen books. In urban schools supply of textbooks in core subjects ranged from 20–40%, the availability of non-core textbooks ranged from 1:8 (Uganda and Kenya) to 1:40 (Zambia) up to 1:100 (Mozambique) per student, in rural schools textbooks even in core subjects are very scare. For most schools, the best solution is a textbook in the hands of a teacher who could write the text onto the blackboard or dictate it directly to the students. Expensive imported books, particularly at senior secondary level are usually widely unaffordable. In industrialized countries iPads and tablets are currently the most common devices in education projects. Mobile apps became compelling tools; they embody the convergence of several technologies that lend themselves to educational use, including annotation tools, applications for creation and composition, and social networking tools. Apps are the fastest growing sector of the mobile field in the K-12 sector, with impacts on every aspect of informal life, and increasingly, potential in almost every academic discipline (MNC 2012, p.12). In developing countries most of the discussions concerning the use of simple e-book readers and cell phones: GSM phones are a stable and widely available technology, which do not offer the functionality of smart-phones and also not a very interactive or media-rich learning experience. ‘It is possible for educational content producers to partner with the local mobile providers to distribute learning materials…..Content can either be integrated to the phone operating system or downloaded from the wireless network’ (Young, 2009). The World Bank is supporting some countries that are planning for the procurement of digital learning materials, mainly as 'e-textbooks', replacing in part existing paper-based materials; and/or to complement existing curricular materials (Trucano, 2012c). Considering further developments and projects this topic is extensively discussed in blogs. In SSA the most important drivers for e-textbooks are the lack of textbooks and libraries. e-books, e-reader An e-book is the electronic version of a printed book produced in different way. The simpliest form of digitalization is just a scan of a printed version. Most commonly those e-books are offered as PDFs; more or less, regardless of the format, interactivity and multimedia competence – especially for video content – is rather low or not provided at all. E-reader provide annotations and bookmarking possibilities, interactivity is only enabled by a few formats. They do not support multimedia content sufficiently, which is a serious disadvantage for teaching and learning content (Nagler et al, 2012, p. 19). To reduce the costs instead of minimizing the number of textbooks and reference books required by secondary education curricula and also to adapt content to curriculum developments (frequent changes cause high additional expenses) e-books are an affordable solution. If necessary selected pages can be printed. Further benefits are the portability of e-texts, the availability throughout a student’s career, when downloaded and accessible without internet connection. Although the situation is not comparable to US universities it could be of interest to learn from a recent research on preferences for electronic versus conventional books. A recent report (Internet2 eTextbook, 2012) Web based books do not need any reader, just a web browser. A web-based portal makes it easy for publishers to publish rich, interactive books in a matter of minutes. An existing textbook, supplied in PDF format, is digitalized with added animations, videos, hyperlinks and more. Edits, revisions and updates can be made at any time and published immediately. Since there are 5 times more mobile phone subscribers than internet users in Africa it is important to offer content in formats that is developed also for offline learning demands. 4.3 Creative Commons, OER (Open Educational Resources)

Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Online textbooks allow students access to invaluable educational materials anywhere with mobile networks and internet. The internet offers access to educational materials, but this potential is hindered by increasingly restrictive copyright laws. Creative Commons is an initiative to minimize barriers, by providing free licenses and tools that anyone can use to share their educational materials with the world. The licenses are currently being used in a broad range of open educational content projects worldwide, including the notable Open Course Ware (OCW) from MIT (Massachusetts Institut of Technology, http://ocw.mit.edu). Creative Commons is also partnering with academic publishers of educational content. Many education ministries prefer to have schools accessing content from one central place, often overseen by the ministry itself. Reasons therefore are ( to name just a few): ensuring quality, child digital safety, security issues, clear linkages between educational content and curricular objectives, privacy, sometimes also to link teacher professional development activities to specific educational content, and cost savings through bulk purchases (Trucano, 2012c). Open Educational Resources (OER) OER policy will play an important role reducing costs while improving quality of educational resources. OER’s are ‘teaching, learning and research materials in any medium, digital or otherwise, that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions.’ (GKfF 2007) ’Open’ means that the resource can be accessed and used by everyone in a non-discriminatory manner, and also that it can be adapted, modified, and shared. Furthermore ‘open’ specially focused on educational materials can be interpreted as ‘open access to knowledge’. (OER 2012; GKfF 2007) Mobile phones with internet connectivity (Wi-Fi) allow access to resources released by OER initiatives. Besides OCW from MIT with currently 2000 courses available in different languages and freely and open online for anyone, other institutions also offering open materials in relevance to SSA: 1. OER Africa is a network of projects that enables active participation by educators and other stakeholders in the improvement of education systems in Africa http://cdn.printitgreen.com/. There is a specific section for teachers, ‘African Teacher Education OER Network’, currently supporting specific Interest Groups: Early Childhood Development (ECD), Mathematics Education, School Leadership, Social Sciences, Special Needs & Inclusive Education and Science Teacher Education. (http://www.oerafrica.org/teachered/TeacherEducationHome/tabid/933/Default.aspx); 2. Curriki: A ‘next generation wiki’ for K-12 education is an online community and wiki platform for teachers, learners, and education experts to share, reuse, and remix educational resources (http://welcome.curriki.org/) 3. Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/) offers supplemental instructional videos, ranging from art history to linear equations; 4. CK-12 Foundation, focuses on textbooks for K-12 schools. It is specified to the US Curriculum and offers webbased, collaborative ‘flexbooks’ that are free to use and adapt in multiple formats like PDF, iPad and Kindle http://www.ck12.org/ 5. Connexions, is a repository and collaborative platform of educational materials that breaks down larger collections, such as textbooks and courses, into basic building blocks known as modules. Each module has a corresponding web page, so educators can mix and match pages to create custom lessons (http://cnx.org/). While in Europe and North America education seems to continue to perpetuate the decades-old textbook-centric approach to providing students and teachers with instructional materials there is a chance for SSA to strike a new path by focusing on e-books in education. This could narrow the gap between what technology allows, how to communicate, learn and play and to education (OoPR 2011. p. 6).

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Conclusions

With the accelerating growth of mobile phones in Africa the past few years, the chances of large scale adoption of m-Learning for supporting learning and collaboration in Africa are one of the most discusses topics around the world. Cell phones are seen as very powerful tools to offer opportunities in teaching and learning for enhancing education in SSA. The existing mobile infrastructure can help to overcome many of the longstanding challenges in

Originally published in: Grimus, M. & Ebner, M. (2013). M-Learning in Sub Saharan Africa Context- What is it about. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications 2013 (pp. 2028-2033). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

education, that have inhibited access to traditional educational products e.g. books and schooling. Mobile learning with OER is an advantage for further developments in education. Especially for people in deprived and sparsely populated areas, providing access to educational services and offering a wide range of educational material will be a big step towards better education. In this publication some challenges and advantages are outlined, which are specific for SSA. The focus has been laid on the continuing growth of mobile phones and mobile networks, which offer new perspectives for learning and education in SSA.

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Literature

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