Successful Delivery of a MOOC via Basic Mobile Phones: A Case Study of Mobile Learning in India for Increasing Awareness of Science-Based Production Practices Among Semi-skilled Horticultural Farmers
Increased concerns about food security in the context of increasing climate variability and globalized trade in agricultural commodities have led to a realization that scalable and technology-enabled methods of learning are necessary to help farmers access new science-based information. We have proposed an innovative Mobile Learning System based on simple (dumb) phone technology, which enables learning through voice calls. In Hindi, the word Mali refers to a semi-skilled horticultural worker. A series of Mobile for Malis (MfM) Audio MOOCs were developed and delivered to open up access to learning materials and processes to the unreached usually hindered by limitations such as data connectivity, distance from experts, and limited literacy. We conducted two large-scale trials, the objectives being three-fold: to test our system to see if all the different components behaved as expected in a live situation. Second, we wanted to observe the human response and behavior to such an innovative learning system. Third, we wanted to confirm some of the pedagogical hypotheses we had assumed during the design of our audio lessons. A total of 1900 learners were involved. Audio materials were in Hindi language as spoken in the State of Uttar Pradesh, which is the largest province of India. The results proved that the innovative arrangement involving basic cell phones, telephony infrastructure, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, Hindi speech recognition and a web-based course management system was highly effective. Our trials have also opened up to some major research avenues in mobile learning which need to be further investigated. // Chapter from book titled, "Mobile and Ubiquitous Learning: An International Handbook"
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