Month: March 2011

Mobile Learning in Mombasa

Mombasa Class

Zarc Teaches a Group of Pastors

Class #2 of our mobile phone pastor training included a group from Mombasa, Kenya. While Mombasa is not exactly a remote location, having another cohort of pastors there allows us to learn how to run multiple classes in parallel.

Mombasa is like Orlando in the summer without air conditioning; warm and muggy. The culture was closer to Orlando, too; casual and relaxed. I didn’t have to wear my suit. The church in which we met had a dirt floor and a corrugated steel roof that was open to the sky in some parts. Fortunately there was an electrical outlet that kept our batteries charged long enough to register the new students.

Not only does the student learning application run on a mobile phone, but parts of the computerized learning system run on mobile phones as does the student administration program. Registering new students only requires access to the Internet on a smart phone.

Mombasa Pastors

Jerry with some of the pastors

As with the other groups that have started using this mobile phone training, this group learned how to use their new phones in a short time. Most of them had never used a touch screen device before, so they all had to learn new concepts. Eventually they all learned how to run the training application on their phones before we left.

Flight to Mombasa

Flying To Mombasa

We flew into Mombasa from Nairobi early in the morning, and we flew back to Nairobi in the afternoon. So I never got to see the coast of Kenya. What I saw of Mombasa looked the same as what I have seen of Nairobi. Maybe next trip to Kenya I’ll be able to spend some time in Mombasa on the coast, something every Kenyan tells me I should do.

Review of mLearning Class 2 Launch

[We did this analysis a couple weeks after the launch of mLearning Class 2, but I dated this post earlier, so it wouldn’t show at the top of the page.]

Post Launch Review
(a very internal look at how we did)

What Did We Set Out To Accomplish?

  • Affordable course payments
  • Course locking
  • Communication module working
  • Effective educational materials
  • Achieve cost efficiency
  • Bookmarking
  • Note taking feature
  • Working quiz system

What Actually Happened

  • The software enabled affordable partial payments by the students
  • The course locking as designed didn’t work, but as implemented worked.
  • Communication module works but with some questions.
    • Possibly non-Safaricom quiz and communication not working
    • SMS Gateway communication became unreliable during student registration
    • SMS Gateway software needed frequent restarts to keep functioning
    • SMS Gateway software ran on a regular Android mLearning phone.
  • Note taking, bookmarking worked, media played
  • It cost 2000 KSH to register 10 students in Nairobi (students #10 – #20)
  • 1000 KSH in account went away Thursday night March 3
  • Safaricom account was blocked after money ran out for SMS Gateway Thursday night March 3
  • Troubleshooting remotely using Email, Skype, and phone communication was sufficient.
  • We encountered situations/conditions that had not been tested; e.g. registering lots of students in a short time.
  • Quiz system worked.
  • There is some question about whether different network are causing problems.
  • Backend worked very well

What Went Right

  • Backend – Allogy Admin
    • Student registration
    • Student payments
    • Quiz tracking
    • Facilitated a side-install
    • Quiz creation/course building
    • Lightweight enough for easy mobile phone use
    • Facilitated a testing environment
  • Bookmarking – passive mode was good
  • Progress bar is good
  • Note taking – worked as advertised
  • SMS-based communication
    • Eliminated the need for student data plan for all necessary communication
  • Quiz results easy to view
  • Client worked
  • Updates on Client, SMS Gateway, and backend were timely and addressed the problems
  • Rooted SMS Gateway phone worked as intended (able to bypass 100 SMS/hr limit)
  • Zarc teaching new students how to use their new phones and Allogy
  • Test sites worked well. Easy to test and throw away.

What Could We Have Done Better

  • Testing
    • test real situations
    • needed more testing time
  • Process for pushing updates that involves local and remote testing.
  • Client stability
    • Changing orientation
    • File decryption
  • Correct home screen display
  • Support different screen sizes and resolutions
  • Additional visual indicators of progress through list of lessons
  • Remove initial client authentication layer (“Verify” step)
  • Cost – arranged data service with Safaricom immediately upon turning new SIM on Android.
  • Eliminate noisy SMS updates
  • Using SMS technology better