Mobile technologies for development – a comparative study on challenges


This paper compares and analyzes three cases where mobile technology is developed and used for everyday learning in developing countries. Preliminary results from field studies and tests are presented and analyzed in terms of the technical, professional, social, cultural and organizational challenges involved in development. In Bangladesh Virtual Classroom SMS is used together with TV to make education interactive. The eduPhone project develops a system and a method for delivering everyday “situated education”, such as emergency medical advice, to people lacking access to such services. The Agricultural Market Information System project disseminates information to improve local agricultural markets and, in particular, supporting small farmers, by mobile phones. The paper reports the cases and findings from investigations and tests, including field studies, laboratory and field tests, and experiences from implementation. We find that technical challenges are not great and in most cases concern innovativeness of application rather than access, use and usability; e-readiness among people is higher than often reported. The main problems lie in organizational challenges – developing a sustainable business model and reorganizing processes consequently – and social and cultural challenges such as local power structures and professional traditions.

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