Blog/20090528 oer4teachers 2

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Follow-up post to Blog/20090528 oer4teachers. One of the questions asked was whether the technologies mentioned would really work in an African context.

Some tools (like loband) have been specifically built for a developing world context, and they are getting good use from developing countries. So yes, some of those things do work, and are tested in the field (as it were).

The fact that internet connections are often dial up / GPRS (or worse) is only one way of looking at the problem. Another (valid) point of view is to say that the content is too big. So it helps if you can use a tool that transforms the content on the fly.

As another example, take for instance browsing the internet on mobile phones: Whether you can browse well depends on how well the content displays on your phone. I'm a fan of opera mini. It runs on most phones that have a basic browser, but is much better than the basic browser included with the phone. That's still a mobile browser, rather than desktop, so it's still limited, but it does give reasonable usability. There are now basic phones on the market, that support opera mini, so while very basic phones don't run opera mini, it's not just for smart phones either.

Is that just a Northern tool? No: Sometimes there is "local" knowledge about how to make the most of the connections. For instance, when I was in Zambia recently, and had my phone signed up to GPRS, the person in the Zain telecentre (to their credit!) suggested that I should install opera mini on my phone, to use the connection more effectively.

Of course, in many other places, that would not have been suggested, and that's the real problem: It's not the availability of those solutions, but the knowledge about them.

(So now we're really going off topic: There are similar strategies that you could do around videos: Most of the video online is encoded for high bandwidth use. We advocate to provide versions formatted for mobile phone: Not necessarily because the developing world will use them on mobile phone, but because they have a better chance to work with typical desktop connections in the developing world.)


2009-05-28 Leave a comment | Back to blog