What we are learning about reading on mobile phones and devices in developing countries

13 Sep

Mobile Reading Survey:
Key Findings

1. Mobile reading opens up new pathways to literacy for marginalized groups, particularly women and girls, and others who may not have access to paper books.
2. People use mobile devices to read to children, thereby supporting literacy acquisition and other forms of learning.
3. People seem to enjoy reading more and read more often when they use mobile devices to access text.
4. People read on mobile devices for identifiable reasons that can be promoted to encourage mobile reading.
5. Most mobile readers are young, yet people of various ages are capable of using mobile technology to access long-form reading material. More can be done to encourage older people to use technology as a portal to text.
6. Current mobile readers tend to have completed more schooling than is typical.
7. There appears to be a demand for mobile reading platforms with text in local languages, level-appropriate text and text written by local authors.

from Reading in the Mobile Era, UNESCO 2014

they tell me my generation is supposed to be able to ‘leap frog’ Each year on 8 September, groups around the world gather together to celebrate “International Literacy Day”, which is meant to highlight the importance of reading, and of being able to read. In the words of UNESCO, the UN organization which sponsors International Literacy Day, “Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration.” As contentious as issues around education around the world can be at times, there is little debate about the fundamental importance of literacy to most human endeavors. New technologies can play important roles in helping to enable efforts and activities to teach people to learn how to read — and to provide people with access to reading materials. As part of its communications outreach on International Literacy Day this year, for example, UNESCO highlighted recent experiences in Senegal targeting illiterate girls and women, where it has found that “mobile phones, computers, internet and TV make literacy courses much more attractive for illiterate women.” The potential for mobile phones and other mobile devices like e-readers to aid in literacy efforts has been a recurrent theme explored on the EduTech blog. In so-called ‘developing countries’, books may be scarce and/or expensive in many communities — and reading materials that *are* locally available may not be of great interest or relevance to many potential readers. The fact that increasing numbers of people in such communities are carrying small portable electronic devices with them at all times capable of displaying text, and which indeed can hold tens, even thousands of digital ‘books’, has not gone unnoticed by organizations seeking to increase literacy and promote reading. Two recent publications — Reading in the Mobile Era and Mobiles for Reading: A Landscape Review — attempt to take stock of and learn from many of the leading efforts around the world in this regard.


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Posted by on September 13, 2014 in Uncategorized


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