A competencE increase of 14% in mathematics was recorded after the second phase of mobile phone supplier Nokia’s Mobile Maths project, which ran from October 2009 to December 2010.
A total of 4 000 learners from 30 schools in three provinces had access to Nokia’s Mobile Maths service during this period to practise mathematics, test their skills by competing with other learners in mathematics and collaborate on maths- related problems with their friends.
The project was initiated in October 2008 and received significant positive response from learners, teachers and schools, particularly during the teacher strike earlier this year. Since its inception, the initiative has shown that access to the service outside school hours accounted for 82% of total access and, in 24 weeks, 62 849 mathematics exercises were attempted by these learners.
The project, called MoMath, is aimed at enhancing the traditional learning environment through a modern, relevant and widely accessible medium. Project manager for the initiative and senior manager for mobile and learning solutions in sustainability operations at Nokia Riitta Vänskä says that, while most learners do not have access to computers, many of them do have access to a mobile phone.
“This initiative gives learners the opportunity to study mathematics any- where and anytime, which, in turn, gives them the chance to empower themselves,” she notes.
She adds that the project aims to provide the mathematics service to learners on all brands of phones, not only Nokia, and on phones of all price ranges.
“The basic considerations for a success- ful project includes engaging children through their own tools and developing it in a learner-focused way. “We further want to stimulate positive competition among learners in formal and informal learning environments, providing a scalable, affordable, replic- able and sustainable solution to education problems,” says Vänskä.
However, the main aim of the project is to offer the service to learners free. This was made possible by the strategic partners who joined Nokia in the initiative, including the South Africa-Finland Knowledge Partnership on Information and Communication Technologies, the Department of Basic Education, free instant messaging application MXit, school publisher Maskew Miller Longman and cellular network providers Cell C and MTN.
Vänskä notes that MXit became involved in this project as it affords millions of young people communicating on MXit daily easy access to mathematical education tools. In 2009, 260 learners, in Gauteng, the North West and the Western Cape, who formed part of a test project, were encouraged to use their own handsets to access the collaborative learning service for maths through Mxit. This number has grown considerably in 2010.
MXit Cares manager for social busi- ness and education Laura Hallam believes the youth require all the tools they can get to ensure a bright future for the county. “Through our platform, learners are able to empower themselves with knowledge. MXit will continue to provide the Mobile Maths service to give more learners the chance to improve their maths skills,” she adds.
Cell C corporate social investment manager Mercia Maserumule says that the company has always chosen projects that invest in the youth of South Africa. “We believe that mobile technology can play a significant role as a tool for teaching and learning, as well as closing the digital divide. “The mobile maths learning pilot programme is an innovative solution and Cell C is proud to be part of a project that contributes to positive change in the country,” she notes.
Each of the partners involved in the initiative has committed to ensuring that this project continues in South Africa. Nokia aims to further develop the ser- vice, integrate it into the South African learning environment and guarantee a sustainable implementation model for South Africa.