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Mobile Phones: Better Learning Tools than Computers? (An EduTech Debate)

Michael Trucano's picture

Photo courtesy of the World Bank | Photographer: Eric MillerinfoDev and UNESCO have teamed up to sponsor a series of monthly on-line discussions on low-cost ICT initiatives for educational systems in developing countries.  The debate for June is titled Mobile Phones: Better Learning Tools than Computers? 

To help get things started, Dr. Robert Kozma has staked out a position that "Computers are More Capable than Mobile Phones", while I counter that "Phones Are a Real Alternative to Computers".  Moderating the discussion is Wayan Vota, the creator of the independent site.

You are welcome to join what we hope will be a lively discussion on the site.  No doubt some commenters will feel that this debate is built on a false premise, as it starts with a discussion of technologies, and not educational goals and objectives.  Others may say that there is room for both PCs and computers in discussions of educational technology.  Fair enough -- please feel free to add your voice to the debate!

You may also be interested in a similar debate between Iqbal Qadir, the founder of Grameenphone, and Nicholas Negroponte, the founder of One Laptop per Child, that was sponsored by GOOD Magazine back in December 2008, which they called Communication Breakdown.


Submitted by Alan Foo on
Mobile phones would be at best at the moment be complementary to computers as learning tools. In Education there are many needs in many forms that require much larger screens. The mobile will fail in many areas of needs of education especially in classes. Mobile phones would be good complementary tools to the computers in the sense that through mobile broadband or Internet connectivities educational contents can be delivered cheaply. Alan

I motion that Mobile Phones or Mobile Computers are better tools of education and communicaiton than current desk top based or even lap tops. First mobile phones are easy to transport and work with. They are smaller, can be taken with the person wherever and whenever. Second, the Ipohone 3g series are so user friendly and capable to doing more things than computers, that it has been now over one year since I used my lap top or home office computer. I have a small Mac at home, and yet I prefer my iphone for internet surfing, photoshops and diary as well as text messaging and calendar managing. Third, the phones are more heatlhy, as you can walk, sit, recline when you use them, asssting your spine to have opportunity to rest. The desk top computers are back breakers as one is hooked on the chair for hours and can be dangersou. The mobile phones at least the Iphones are touch screen based and can easily interface with different screens and I have a second Iphone where I can easily take messages on one and do my data base work on the other. I believe we should either make the computers portable and mobile or utilize the phone systems as mini computers. This summer, I spent a week in Roma and took my iphones and left my Mac at home. IO did a better job in all my tourist activities as there are many travel applications I took with me. So, make Iphone Computers cheaper and more user friendly and desk top computers will be dinosaurs as the big out of date competers of the early 1970s. Talk to the youth and you will know, the computers as we know them may not be their first choice, so does my 15 years old daughter. So, let us admit it the future of iphone or mobile computers is yet to come. Dr B

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