An Exploratory Study of Unsupervised Mobile Learning in Rural India

Anuj Kumar, Anuj Tewari, Geeta Shroff, Deepti Chittamuru, Matthew Kam, and John Canny
ACM Human Factors in Computing Systems (2010)


Cellphones have the potential to improve education for the millions of underprivileged users in the developing world. However, mobile learning in developing countries remains under-studied. In this paper, we argue that cellphones are a perfect vehicle for making educational opportunities accessible to rural children in places and times that are more convenient than formal schooling. We carried out participant observations to identify the opportunities in their everyday lives for mobile learning. We next conducted a 26-week study to investigate the extent to which rural children will voluntarily make use of cellphones to access educational content. Our results show a reasonable level of academic learning and motivation. We also report on the social context around these results. Our goal is to examine the feasibility of mobile learning in out-of-school settings in rural, underdeveloped areas, and to help more researchers learn how to undertake similarly difficult studies around mobile computing in the developing world.