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Posts in category 'Education'

15 July 2010

University and Cyberspace conference videos online

Communia
A few weeks ago the Communia conference University and Cyberspace took place here in Torino, Italy, with a focus on “reshaping knowledge institutions for the networked age”. Speakers included Massimo Banzi, Joy Ito, David Orban, Bruce Sterling, and many others.

The international conference, which is the conclusion and culmination of the Communia Thematic Network project (the European Thematic Network on the Digital Public Domain), was organised by the Politecnico of Torino’s NEXA Research Center for Internet and Society (that also coordinated the network) and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and aimed at defining a shared vision of the future of universities as knowledge institutions and identifying the main steps leading from vision to reality.

The event addressed questions such as: How is the role of universities as knowledge creating, sharing, and applying institutions going to change due to the Internet? How should universities use cyberspace to best implement their mission with respect to society? Taking into account the characteristics of the new generations of students, faculty and staff, how should the informational and the spatial (both physical and virtual) infrastructures of universities be shaped to improve learning, discovery, and engagement? What about the new opportunities to enhance the civic role of universities – who prepare people for citizenship and contribute to the public sphere – in our democratic societies?

Videos of all sessions are now online, although in a still somewhat rough format (they are now working at processing the videos further):

Monday 28 June
The first day of the conference covered the relevant history and traditions of universities, moved through the current state of play, and focused on the emerging landscape of universities, articulating both their changing role in society, the significant challenges these institutions are facing for the future and, more specifically, their role vis a vis the increasing commons of knowledge facilitated by the Internet.

Morning session (video link)

  • Kick-off [00:12:56]: Juan Carlos de Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society, in conversation with Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Keynote [00:53:20]: “Universities in the Age of the Internet” by Stefano Rodotà, University of Rome
  • High Order Bit [01:46:00]: “Arduino, Open Source Hardware and Learning by Doing” by Massimo Banzi, tinker.it, arduino.cc
  • Plenary [02:03:45]: “Digital Natives” with John Palfrey, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Marco de Rossi, Oilproject.org, and Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society

Afternoon session (video link)

  • Plenary [00:01:19]: “Information Infrastructure” with Alma Swan, Key Perspectives Ltd., Stuart Shieber, Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Office of Scholarly Communication at Harvard University, and Martin Hall, Salford University, UK
  • High Order Bit [01:27:13]: “African Universities as Knowledge Centers: Challenges and Opportunities” by Boubakar Barry, African Association of Universities
  • Plenary [01:41:45]: Physical/Virtual Spatial Infrastructure” with Antoine Picon, Harvard University and Jef Huang, EPFL

Tuesday 29 June
The second day attempted cross-sectional reorientation, by examining universities’ emerging responsibilities as ‘horizontal’ themes, especially as they intersect with future challenges described in the first day’s ‘vertical’ tracks.

Morning session (video link)

  • High Order Bit [00:01:12]: “Individual and social evolution: through digital gaming, out of the box” by Carlo Fabricatore, Initium Studios & University of Worcester
  • Plenary [00:14:52]: “Universities as Civic Actors or Institutions” with Marco Santambrogio, University of Parma, Italy, Colin Maclay, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Maarten Simons, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Jan Masschelein, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, and Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society

Afternoon session (video link)

  • Plenary [00:01:00]: “Universities as Platforms for Learning” with Catharina Maracke, Keio University, Japan, Marco De Rossi, Oilproject.org, Carlo Fabricatore, Initium Studios & University of Worcester, Delia Browne, Peer-2-Peer University, Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD, and Jean Claude Guedon, University of Montreal
  • High Order Bit [01:15:46] by Joy Ito, Creative Commons
  • Plenary [01:33:11]: “Universities as Knowledge Creators” with Carlo Olmo, Politecnico di Torino, Phillippe Aigrain, Sopinspace, Janneke Adema, Coventry University, Mary Lee Kennedy, Harvard Business School, and Terry Fisher, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  • Plenary [02:49:56]: “In Search of the Public Domain” with Lucie Guibault, Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam, Patrick Peiffer, Luxcommons, Jonathan Gray, Open Knowledge Foundation, Sirin Tekinay, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey, Ignasi Labastida, University of Barcelona, Philippe Aigrain, Sopinspace, and Paolo Lanteri, WIPO

Wednesday 30 June
The third day combined the three tracks and the cross-sectional issues with an orientation towards solutions and next steps.

Morning session (video link)

  • High Order Bit [00:01:08]: “Why Academia Needs to Rediscover the Commons” by Jean Claude Guedon, University of Montreal
  • High Level Keynote [00:28:00]: “Digital Culture, Network Culture, and What Comes Afterward” by Bruce Sterling
  • High Order Bit [01:35:44]: “From Elites, To Masses: Drivers of Excellence in Communication, And Participation” by David Orban, Humanity+ & Singularity University
  • Student session [01:49:58]: “Public universities, public education: From the Bologna Process to Cyberspace”, chaired by Chiara Basile, Politecnico di Torino

Afternoon session (video link)

  • Final Session: “Synthesis and Proposals” with Stephan Vincent-Lancrin, OECD, Francesco Profumo, Rector Politecnico di Torino, Mario Calabresi, La Stampa, Herbert Burkert, University of St. Gallen, Jafar Javan, UN Staff College, Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society, Chiara Basile, Politecnico di Torino, Sirin Tekinay, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey, Juan Carlos De Martin, NEXA Center for Internet & Society, and Urs Gasser, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
25 June 2010

Essays on service design in higher education

coten
COTEN, the collaborative online research project exploring service design for higher education in 2010, features some interesting lecture essays:

Small change and re-thinking education (audio)
by Nabeel Hamdi
17 May 2010

Our first Special Guest is Nabeel Hamdi who, in this interview with Andy Polaine, talks about both his approach to development work, which advocates a bottom-up “small change” approach, as well as giving us his insightful views on education, especially the role of designers as catalysts rather than experts. Keywords: change, development, education.
> discussion

Service design education (video)
by Lauren Currie and Sarah Drummond, Snook
21 May 2010

Lauren Currie and Sarah Drummond from Snook give their view on the issues surrounding teaching service design as well as their thoughts on the structure of higher education in this video podcast. Keywords: service design, education, teaching, learning
> discussion

Building a culture of trust (video)
by Arne van Oosterom,
24 May 2010

Arne van Oosterom, owner and Strategic Design Director at DesignThinkers brings us an insightful and entertaining view on Building a Culture of Trust. Arne will be joining us in the Main Studio to discuss his talk and the issues it raises. Keywords: Trust, Culture, Service Design, Design Thinking, Business, Touchpoints
> discussion

Bonfire of the literacies
by John Thackara
7 June 2010

John Thackara on education, service design and the limits of online.
> discussion

Time, co-creation and improvisation
by Liz Danzico, chair and co-founder of the MFA in Interaction Design Program at the School of Visual Arts
9 June 2010

For me at least, the collaboration question is not an easy one. It’s not a matter of talking about how, but of “how good,” and increasingly, “when.” This last consideration, the consideration of time is key. As service designers, collaboration and co-creation — with one another and with our audiences — is increasingly happening in the moment. And that’s both something we can plan for and nothing we can expect. The way we work together must be, to a certain degree, unscripted. There are hundreds of opportunities for us to co-create in one way or another may bring a creative spirit to the work we do. But do we? Can we in a way that’s relevant and meaningful?
> discussion

Tools to encourage behaviour change
by Mary Rose Cook and Zoë Stanton, founders Uscreates
21 June 2010

Uscreates is an agency which empowers the public to help change negative behaviours in their communities. We apply a range of knowledge and approaches drawn from service design, social marketing and behavioural economics to help the public devise strategies and interventions to encourage behaviour change. We are going to use our week hosting the COTEN project to focus on behaviour change and some of the ways in which we use service design processes and methodologies to add value to behaviour change work, and vice versa.
> discussion

Experience, experience, experience: lets get specific
by Ben Reason, co-founder live|work
21 June 2010

Service Design cannot escape talking about experience and experiences. The current and future experiences of people – service customers, clients, users, patients, consumers, etc. – are the context that service design works in.
> discussion

19 June 2010

New Masters in Service Design at Domus Academy

Il Servizio
The Domus Academy in Milan is launching a new Masters in Service Design.

“Domus Academy’s distinctive approach is to consider the aesthetic of the experience along the parameters of quality and efficacy for a good service performance: such a dimension depends on sensitive and emotional aspects, linked to human nature, behavior, and cultural backgrounds.

The Master in Service Design is a unique occasion to experience the Italian design culture and its humanistic approach along with the most advanced service design methods and tools to envisage innovation for the service sector.”

Led by Elena Pacenti, the Master program focuses on consumer services (B2C): from banks and insurance, hospitality and tourism, mobility and transportation, entertainment and culture, retail and commercial, to healthcare and public services.

The aim of the Master Program is to develop professional skills for Service Design and Management, with a focus on the quality of the overall customer experience and on the design of innovative service ideas.

Domus Academy is also hosting a service design competition where prospective students can gain a scholarship.

Download the leaflet

(via Jeff Howard’s Design for Service)

18 June 2010

Deciphering the cause of human motivation

Drive
Anand Giridharadas, columnist at the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, is at it again in his usual delightful way. This time he reflects on the nature of human motivation.

“Call it, perhaps, the great showdown over the nature of human motivation.

One camp regards our species as Homo Incentivus. It conceives of us as shrewd responders to carrots and sticks, hooked on a diet of incentives and external rewards. This camp bristles at the thought that we do things just because we love them or believe they are right. […]

Which idea reflects our cultural moment? Are we cool, rational optimizers or suckers for the balm of purpose?

In a recent book called “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us,” Daniel Pink, who wrote speeches for Al Gore when he was the U.S. vice president, attacks the incentive-based vision of humans. On his telling, Motivation 1.0 came naturally: It was biological survival, the escaping from lions and tigers. Then we developed Motivation 2.0, which is the use of incentives — external penalties and rewards. But in our attempt to induce useful behavior, we may actually have drained the intrinsic pleasure from it, Mr. Pink contends.”

Read article

13 June 2010

William J. Mitchell (MIT) passed away

William J. Mitchell
BoingBoing reports that Professor William J. Mitchell, pioneer of urban computing, has passed away.

Professor William J. Mitchell, director of MIT’s Design Laboratory and pioneering Smart Cities research group, died yesterday after a battle with cancer. Professor Mitchell was a brilliant and big thinker who wrote a series of seminal books, including Me++, City of Bits, and e-topia, about the intersection of humanity, networked intelligence, and the built environment. “Bill was a designer’s designer and visionary about the impact of new media on human experience,” says professor Ken Goldberg, director of UC Berkeley’s Center for New Media, to which Mitchell was an advisor. “He was incredibly prolific and will leave a lasting impact on generations of designers and thinkers.”

Read MIT News obituary

5 June 2010

DIY U: Can digital solutions save universities?

DIY U
DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education
by Anya Kamenetz
Chelsea Green, 2010

Anya Kamenetz’s new book, DIY U, explores whether the university should embrace digital technologies, or resist.

“In a world being radically altered by new media technologies, should the university embrace those technologies, or resist them? This is the question Anya Kamenetz explores in her new book DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. Her answer — in this troubling, stylistically flat and haphazardly structured book — is an emphatic yes for a wholehearted embrace.”

Read review

5 June 2010

Does the Internet make us smarter or dumber?

Smarter or dumber?
Clay Shirky and Nicholas Carr post contrasting video’s in the Saturday Essay of the Wall Street Journal

Amid the silly videos and spam are the roots of a new reading and writing culture, says Clay Shirky.

“The case for digitally-driven stupidity assumes we’ll fail to integrate digital freedoms into society as well as we integrated literacy. This assumption in turn rests on three beliefs: that the recent past was a glorious and irreplaceable high-water mark of intellectual attainment; that the present is only characterized by the silly stuff and not by the noble experiments; and that this generation of young people will fail to invent cultural norms that do for the Internet’s abundance what the intellectuals of the 17th century did for print culture. There are likewise three reasons to think that the Internet will fuel the intellectual achievements of 21st-century society.”

The cognitive effects are measurable: We’re turning into shallow thinkers, says Nicholas Carr.

“A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the Net, with its constant distractions and interruptions, is […] turning us into scattered and superficial thinkers.

The picture emerging from the research is deeply troubling, at least to anyone who values the depth, rather than just the velocity, of human thought. People who read text studded with links, the studies show, comprehend less than those who read traditional linear text. People who watch busy multimedia presentations remember less than those who take in information in a more sedate and focused manner. People who are continually distracted by emails, alerts and other messages understand less than those who are able to concentrate. And people who juggle many tasks are less creative and less productive than those who do one thing at a time.”

Personally, I am much more convinced by Shirky’s argument. Also I find Shirky’s thinking more concrete and actionable than Nicholas Carr’s, whose gloomy and conservative analysis can only lead, it seems to me, to a completely impossible conclusion: to shut down the web and move back to books.

>> See also these reviews on Carr’s book by The New York Times and Business Week

26 April 2010

The interviews of l’école de design

CADI
The bilingual (Fr/En) research journal CADI of the highly respected design school L’école de design Nantes/Atlantique in the French city of Nantes is a worthwhile treat, as each issue contains four in-depth interviews with professional authorities who worked with their graduating students. A dedicated blog (also in English) provides extra materials. Here are the highlights:

CADI 2009

“Today flexibility, user-control and end-user programming are key notions in our field.”
Interview with Laurence Nigay, researcher in Computer-Human Interfaces and professor at the University of Grenoble
Laurence Nigay focuses particularly on the human, economic and social issues related to new technologies and the digital economy. She also underlines the essential role of design in the field of “tangible interfaces.

“Design could come into play prior to our activities by contributing to new views and new solutions….”
Interview with Stephen Boucher, public policy consultant
Stephen Boucher, former co-secretary of Notre Europe, a think tank specialising in European politics, and now programme director of the EU Climate Policies Programme (launched by the European Climate Foundation), talks about innovative methods for citizens to debate and make their voices heard. How can we organise information and understand trends?

“In the future techno-literate knowledge architects will be supported by knowledge designers.”
Interview with Henri Samier, researcher in business intelligence and innovation
Henri Samier, head of the Masters in Innovation programme at ISTIA (the engineering school of the University of Angers, France) points out the importance of future research, especially in the field of “economic intelligence”.

“In the food industry, design is the only way to make products stand out.”
Interview with Céline Gallen, marketing researcher
This last interview deals with the changes in our eating habits and how designers collaborate with experts in marketing and semiology in this domain. Céline Gallen teaches marketing at the University of Nantes and studies the mental models of conusmers when purchasing food products.

CADI 2008

“Our future will be shaped by teams of engineers and designers who work hand in hand.”
Interview with Frédéric Kaplan, artificial intelligence researcher
Kaplan, who researches artificial intelligence at the EPFL in Lausanne, talks about how design colludes with artificial intelligence related technologies.

“Design does not anticipate social evolutions nor customs. They start to take shape through it.”
Interview with Annie Hubert, anthropologist
Annie Hubert, an anthropologist specialised in nutrition and eating habits, delves into the topic of how design has become an integral part of our daily lives.

“Medicine that is used more appropriately, thanks to design, will be more efficient.”
Interview with Pascale Gauthier, pharmacy expert
Gauthier explores how design contributes to the evolution of parent/child relationships in pediatric care contexts.

“Even when not dealing with extreme situations, designers must be aware of potential hazards.”
Interview with Marie-Thérèse Neuilly, sociology and psycho-sociology researcher
Neuilly discusses how design can adapt to both natural and technological emergencies.

“We have to engage people to share and create a new history, a new vision of the world.”
Interview with Gaël Guilloux, eco-design researcher
Guilloux, who is a researchers and consultant in eco-design at the Rhône-Alpes Regional Design Centre, talks about how indispensable is to the achievement of sustainable production processes.

“The real challenge is not to conceive user-friendly tools, but to view them within a broader cultural context.”
Interview with Bruno Bachimont, scientific director of the French Audiovisual Institute
How can design explore the cultural and sensitive dimensions of digital legacy, thus going beyond the mere production of functional digital tools? That is the central question in the interview of Bruno Bachimont, scientific director of INA, the French Audiovisual Institute.

Increasingly French design schools like L’école de design and Strate Collège are chosing to provide nearly all its materials also in English, thereby underlining their international ambitions and outreach.

As for the Nantes school, you want to check their programmes on tangible interfaces, ethically responsible innovation, new mobility, virtual reality and “mutations of the built environment“.

Knowing the effort involved, I can only compliment those French design schools for their English language commitments.

11 April 2010

Your life in 2020

2020
Forbes Magazine, in collaboration with Frog Design, has been looking at what the future in 2020 might look like in a range of areas: computer, choice, classroom, commute, home, job, diet, health and reputation.

Some articles are clearly more inspired (and less technology and US-centered) than others. Many scenarios are far too optimistic, and I miss some broader socio-economic and environmental analysis. What could be the real consequences of privacy concerns, crime, cultural differences, war, climate change, overpopulation or poverty in all this?

Here is for instance a quote from one of the scenarios (about social networking in 2020) that, when thinking about it, would open up a huge range of privacy and security problems, none of which are acknowledged or addressed:

“The virtual display could be used to illustrate relationships between a group of people. A husband and wife might be linked by a thin glowing tether. Flowchart arrows could indicate if one person is another’s boss. Even former friends–people who were once connected but severed ties–could be identified with broken chains or angry lightning bolts.”

This lack of broader contextualisation makes the whole exercise somewhat naive and superficial. That said, here are my preferred pieces (with Steve McCallion’s one – addressing some of the issues mentioned above – my personal number one):

Your life in 2020
by John Maeda, president of RISD
In 2020 we might just regain some of the humanity that was lost in 2010.

“So, what will take technology’s place? It begins with art, design and you: Products and culture that are made by many individuals, made by hand, made well, made by people we trust, and made to capture some of the nuances and imperfections that we treasure in the physical world. It may just feel like we’ve regained some of what we’ve lost in 2010.”

Your computer in 2020
by Mark Rolston, chief creative officer at Frog Design
Traditional computers are disappearing; human beings themselves are becoming information augmented

“When computing becomes deeply integrated into our knowing, our thinking, our decision processes, our bodies and even our consciousness, we are forever changed. We are becoming augmented. Our first and second lives will be forever entwined.”

Transportation in 2020
by Steve McCallion, executive creative director at Ziba Design
In 10 years, your commute will be short, cheap and, dare we say, fun.

“In 2020 a new generation will emerge from a period of frugality into one of resourcefulness and resilience. Americans will start searching for transportation solutions that are smarter, healthier, slower and more social.”

The classroom in 2020
by George Kembel, cofounder and executive director of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design
The next decade will bring an end to school as we know it.

“In 2020 we will see an end to the classroom as we know it. The lone professor will be replaced by a team of coaches from vastly different fields. Tidy lectures will be supplanted by messy real-world challenges. Instead of parking themselves in a lecture hall for hours, students will work in collaborative spaces, where future doctors, lawyers, business leaders, engineers, journalists and artists learn to integrate their different approaches to problem solving and innovate together.”

Reputation in 2020
by David Ewait, Fortune Magazine
Social networks change the way we look at the world and introduce new economic incentives.

“Web-based social networks are cutting-edge technology in 2010. By the year 2020 they’ll be so commonplace–and so deeply embedded in our lives–that we’ll navigate them in the real world, in real time, using displays that splash details over our own field of vision. We’ll even use the social capital that results from these networks as a form of currency.”

But if you understand French, it is useful to compare these insights with the five videos broadcast on the France 5 channel: vivre en 2040.

1 March 2010

New social innovation lab at Darden business school

Darden i.Lab
(From a Darden press release)

On March 19 the Darden School of Business [Charlottesville, VA, USA] and the Batten Institute [an academic research center of the business school] will launch Darden’s new innovation laboratory, or i.Lab, a state-of-the-art learning environment that inspires a new approach to teaching innovation and entrepreneurship. […]

“In contrast to many traditional business-school offerings, the i.Lab provides experiential, team-based and collaborative learning opportunities, such as a design-based studio where students can transform concepts and ideas into physical prototypes,” said Elizabeth O’Halloran, Managing Director, Batten Institute. […]

The Innovation Lab, or “i.Lab,” at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, is a unique physical learning environment rooted in multidisciplinary thinking and informed by ethnographic, anthropological, and other methodologies traditionally used in the social sciences.

Read press release

17 February 2010

English via your mobile

Tiger
The BBC reports on Janala, a service that is revolutionising the teaching of English in Bangladesh using simple mobile technology.

“Janala – it means Window – is a service run by the BBC World Service Trust and funded by the UK’s Department for International Development which launched in Bangladesh last November [and[ has already served up one million English lessons over mobile phones.

Here’s how it works. Bangladesh’s 50 million mobile users simply dial 3000 and get access to hundreds of three-minute audio lesson and SMS quizzes. The classes range from Essential English for beginners to How to tell a story for more advanced learners.

Now, as with any mobile service, plenty of people will try this once and not return but the figures show that English-by-phone is proving more compelling than just about anything else. 39% of callers return to the service, compared to an average 5% return rate for other mobile information products in Bangladesh, and the content for beginners gets a 69% repeat rate.”

Read full story
Watch video

27 November 2009

Terry Winograd video interview

Digital revolution
Terry Winograd, the famous human-computer interaction specialist, was interviewed for Digital Revolution (working title), an open source documentary, due for transmission on BBC Two in 2010, that will take stock of 20 years of change brought about by the World Wide Web.

Terry Winograd interview – USA
Terry Winograd is Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, USA. He specialises in human-computer interaction. He met with the programme three team to discuss the way in which search engines work, determine page rank and deliver results to our queries online.

Also published this week are interviews with Nicholas Carr (author) and Lee Tien (Electronic Frontier Foundation).

Digital Revolution (working title) is an open source documentary, due for transmission on BBC Two in 2010, that will take stock of 20 years of change brought about by the World Wide Web.

19 November 2009

Various articles on the power of the mobile phone in emerging markets

mPesa transaction
A number of articles illustrate the power of the mobile phone in emerging markets:

What next after the Mobile revolution in Kenya?
by John Karanja
MPESA will be on its own a major driver of the economic expansion of the Kenyan economy and best of all it will take a bottom up approach because it will empower the mama mboga (woman grocer) by allowing her to manage her finances efficiently.
[Now] MPESA needs to move from a payment system to a payment gateway: Safaricom should develop MPESA into a platform where other software developers can build applications on top of the platform an thereby increase utility and reach of this technology.
(Make sure to check the embedded videos)

Nokia Life Tools – a life-changing service?
by James Beechinor-Collins
Recently we saw the release of a bunch of new entry level devices and alongside their launch in Indonesia, was the introduction of Nokia Life Tools for Indonesia. This follows an already successful launch in India and Africa and forms part of a rollout across select Asian and African countries. So does it make a difference? It would seem so, as our selection of videos below suggest. With over 50 per cent of the population in Indonesia reliant on agriculture to make a living, Nokia Life Tools brings a new level of control to them.
(Make sure to check the embedded videos)

Mythes et réalités des usages mobiles dans les pays en développement
[Myths and realities of mobile use in developing countries] – an article series in French
by Hubert Guillaud
Part 1Part 2Part 3

Bangladeshis rush to learn English by mobile
By Maija Palmer in London and Amy Kazmin in New Delhi for the Financial Times
More than 300,000 people in Bangladesh, one of Asia’s poorest but fastest-growing economies, have rushed to sign up to learn English over their mobile phones, threatening to swamp the service even before its official launch on Friday.
The project, which costs users less than the price of a cup of tea for each three-minute lesson, is being run by the BBC World Service Trust, the international charity arm of the broadcaster. Part of a UK government initiative to help develop English skills in Bangladesh, it marks the first time that mobile phones have been used as an educational tool on this scale.

2 November 2009

Student projects explore innovative cellphone uses in developing world

Head
MIT News reports on how MIT students are exploring innovative cellphone uses in the developing world.

“Several startup business ventures spawned by MIT students, sometimes as class projects and sometimes as independent work, are exploring new ways to harness the increasingly ubiquitous devices. They are using phones to help people, especially in developing nations, to raise their incomes, learn to read, get where they’re going and even diagnose their ailments.

Some of these projects will be field-tested this summer as student groups fan out around the world to fine-tune and improve their concepts and launch new businesses. Many were developed as entries for MIT’s IDEAS or $100K business competitions, or as part of the MIT Media Lab’s NextLab program to develop cellphone applications geared toward the developing world.”

Read full story

(via textually.org)

28 September 2009

Exploring little worlds with Nokia

Little World
The Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design is on a roll. After an intensive workshop with Intel (featured in Worldchanging), now they embarked on an exploration with Nokia (featured in Fast Company). And obviously all online. Excellent work and excellent communications. Enjoy.

1. Mobile Playfulness
Video about how to incorporate playfulness into the UI of phones. We think that people naturally play and fiddle with things and that we can incorporate that into the UI naturally and passively rather than as active lay like games.

2. Staying Connected
People treat their phones as disposable. How can we make people have a more emotional connection with their phone so that they value it more, and therefore make a brand more desirable and less throw-away or disposable.

3. Little World (featured in Fast Company)
Mobile phones are very task based. They focus on what we want to do, not who we want to contact. What would happen if you put people at the centre of an interface? Here we explored such an interface and see how concepts like grouping, messaging and adding friends might work.

18 September 2009

The use of mobile phones in education in developing countries

 
The World Bank is embarking on a new study investigating issues related to the use of mobile phones in education in developing countries.

“The study is intended to help to raise awareness among key decision makers in the public, private and civil society sectors about the potential importance of the use of low cost mobile devices — especially mobile phones — to help benefit a variety of educational objectives. By documenting the existing landscape of initiatives in this area and emerging ‘good practice’, it is also hoped that this work will serve as a common base for further analytical work in this area, and inform the impending explosion of development of new hardware, software and business services occurring on mobile devices, to the benefit of these educational objectives.

This activity is one component of a larger ‘mobile flagship’ program at the World Bank consisting of studies and activities related to mobile services and applications in selected sectors, including “Mobile Banking Users and Non Users Behavior Study”; “Extending Mobile Applications in Africa through Social Networking”; and “Mobile Applications for Sectoral Development”.”

Read full story

7 September 2009

All learning processes can be supported through mobile phones

 
Abhijit Kadle explains how the mobile phone can easily be used as a learning tool:

“Like all communication and computing devices, mobile phones can be used to learn. The content delivered would depend on the capabilities (features) of the device accessing it.

There are many kinds of learning and many processes that people use to learn, but among the most frequent, time-tested, and effective of these are listening, observing, imitating, questioning, reflecting, trying, estimating, predicting, speculating, and practicing. All of these learning processes can be supported through mobile phones. In addition, cell phones complement the short-attention, casual, multitasking style of today’s young learners.”

Read full story

Related articles:
From toy to tool: cell phones in learning
Using cellphones to learn and save lives
– What do we know about using mobile phones in education? Part 1Part 2
More background articles (W3 Foundation)

30 August 2009

Using Nokia Life Tools in India to learn English

Nokia Life Tools
Dina Mehta, founder and managing director of Mosoci India, reports on how Nokia Life Tools actually gets used in India, and more in particular, how the how the Learn English program, a part of Nokia Life Tools, really works on the ground.

“On the long drive to the villages, Natesh, Head of Nokia Life Tools, India spoke to us extensively about how they developed this concept. It started with debunking the myth that people in villages are so poor they cannot afford such tools, and figuring out through research, what would make a real difference. They found that the need “to better my life” is huge, and Nokia Life Tools might find a space in this, by making users “better prepared when the opportunities strike”. I believe this is a little step in that direction and has a lot of potential for distance education too.”

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Also check this follow-up article on the use of Nokia Life Tools by Indian farmers.

24 August 2009

Opinion piece on the value of mobile phones in schools

No mobile
Juliette LaMontagne argues on the Design Observer that mobile devices aren’t distractions in schools; they’re machines for learning.

“When it comes to technology integration, you need to meet students (and teachers) where they are. When you begin with a tool they already know and love, you’re less likely to be met with the kind of resistance you might otherwise get to institutional hardware or software. For teachers, eliminate the fear factor and you’ve empowered a previously disenfranchised group of self-professed Luddites. For students, who treat the cell phone like an appendage, you’re capitalizing on an existing passion for the technology.”

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24 August 2009

Surveying the use of mobile phones in education worldwide

Sea of phones
Michael Trucano explains on the World Bank’s EduTech blog why the World Bank will be kicking off a study next month looking at “The Use of Mobile Phones in Education in Developing Countries“.

“This study is intended to help to raise awareness among key decisionmakers in the public, private and civil society sectors about the potential importance of the use of low cost mobile devices — especially mobile phones — to help benefit a variety of educational objectives. By documenting the existing landscape of initiatives in this area and emerging ‘good practice’, it is also hoped that this work will serve as a common base for further analytical work in this area, and inform the impending explosion of development of new hardware, software and business services occurring on mobile devices, to the benefit of these educational objectives.”

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