Friday, March 02, 2007

Mobile vs computer literacy

This blog on computer vs mobile literacy turned up on keitai got me thinking. I had a discussion with my year one apprentice block and my full time Certificate in Baking course to see if I could work out which one they were most literate in.

In the apprentice class, there were 12 apprentices ranging in age from 17 to mid 20s. On the computer literacy front, all except one would be pretty literate. They used computers mainly for downloading songs and videos. So they are familiar with how to download programs that would allow them to store songs, videos and then to transfer these to their phones, DVDs or CDs. Only 2 had mp3 players and none owned ipods.

Over half of them had web enabled phones but did not use them to access the www due to the cost of web surfing on the phone. Several owned two phones (a telecom one and a vodaphone one) & used which ever was the cheapest at the relevant time. Cost of access is therefore definitely an issue. It is also the reason why SMS is so popular with young people in NZ and why they do not use the phone to make voice calls. All the apprentices were on prepaid, none were on telecommunications plans. I will need to see if we are able to work out a cheap alternative / plan for educational mobile phone use so that mlearning can work more cost effectively for students in NZ.

The Certificate in Baking group were a more diverse. Ages ranged from 17 into the mid 50s. There were 10 international students in the group of 28. All the young ones under the age of 25 had a similar profile to the apprentices. They were comfortable with a computer and use them mainly for playing games and downloading songs and videos. All the students have a phone. The international students were the most technically adept and owned the widest variety of gadgets – ranging from hand held translation devices to the latest model phone to high end mp3 players and access to DVD players and computers at home. All the older students (above 25) owned a mobile phone and were more likely to use the voice functions of the phone that just SMS.

About 2/3 of the full time students were on vodaphone and the rest on telecom. 1/3 were on a plan with all the younger ones on prepaid. Just over ½ has a camera on their phone with 1/3 of these having video capability. Only 1/5 thought that they are web access via their phone. Web access is not too commonly used in NZ due to the costs involved and many mobile phone user seem to be unclear as to whether their phone had web access or not.

So I think that we are still heading down the right path with our mlearning project. SMS is still the lingua fraca so using SMS for completing formative assessments will work well. Collecting evidence using phones is achievable. We will need to check out PC familiarity by trialling the use of vox or multiply as an eportfolio collation tool with a group of students.

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