Kay returned from teaching how to use mobile phones in Ghana and Kenya (click here to read the story). But is mobile a viable platform for discipleship and training?
Here is some good reading on mobile devices. I’ve put some of my favorite quotes beneath each article link.
1. Tablets are starting to impact African education
Africa is the second-largest mobile-phone market in the world behind Asia … Over the past 10 years, the number of mobile connections in Africa grew an average of 30 percent a year, and the report predicted it would reach 735 million people by the end of this year on a continent with about a billion people. [Note: this would be about 70% of the population.]
USAID recently started an education mobile-phone initiative and last year hosted, in Bethesda, Md., the first International Symposium on Mobiles for Education for Development. The initiative aims to improve access to low-cost mobile technologies for education globally.
It’s important not to oversell the use of mobile technology in Africa. While many people in Africa have mobile phones, many aren’t smartphones that can access the Internet, she said. Mobile learning, she said, is not going to take the place of traditional teaching methods. … education with mobile phones in Africa typically involves a student or teacher using his or her own technology and bearing the burden of associated costs, even if those costs are low.
She expects a very low cost tablet to be introduced in the marketplace soon and to explode in Africa. “I know mobile phones are all over Africa, but I’m not sure that’s the right form for education,” she said. “The tablets are great.”
2. Mobiles starting to edge out internet cafes in Africa
Smart mobile phones are slowly edging out internet cafés in Malawi, says a new report.
He said most youths are buying high-tech mobile phones because they want to appear to be ahead of the game in terms of living up to modern trends and fashion.
3. Wikipedia will be available on free mobile access in Africa via Orange
Orange has struck a deal with Wikipedia to make its digital encyclopaedia available free of data charges to millions of mobile phone users across the Middle East and Africa. The mobile phone operator has 70 million customers across Africa and the Middle East.
The ability to access the internet, and websites such as Wikipedia, is currently limited to about 10 million Orange customers who have mobile devices with 2G or 3G capability.
4. Next billion mobile users will come from developing rural areas
Operators can expect to see the next billion mobile connections to come from rural areas in emerging markets, according to analyst Ovum.
5. In 2012, there will be 200 million more mobile users in India
The mobile phone will drive internet use in India in 2012. Computing begins with the mobile and its growth is fast in India.
He believes that the increase in smartphone and internet capable phones, selling below $94 and built by Indian manufacturers, is making it easier and more affordable to own such devices.
The other big change when it comes to India and the internet is how people are using the web. With better connections, mobile phones and computers, Indians are increasingly using the internet for more than just checking their email.
In both rural and urban areas, social networking is a key driver of use. The most popular site in India is now Facebook, which in the past six months saw its user base grow by more than a third.
When I lived in Nigeria in the ’80s and ’90s, few people had a landline telephone. The introduction of cellphones allowed Africa countries to skip the installation of telephone line infrastructure. I think the growth in smartphones will similarly allow Africans to skip the computer + internet that most of us associate with internet connectivity.
Yes, I think mobile phones, and especially tablets, will allow us to increasingly disciple and train people better than ever before. What about you? In what ways can mobile assist discipleship? In what ways should we be cautious?