GESCI’s Senior Education Specialist Mary Hooker attended the Mobile Learning Week 2015 (#MLW2015) hosted by UNESCO and UN Women in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The theme of the conference was ‘leveraging technology to empower women and girls’. The focus of activities throughout the week was looking at the current and potential role of mobile technology in both addressing and revisiting education and gender priorities, and in building and accelerating new models of education innovation and transformation.
What kind of difference can the increasingly ubiquitous, affordable, sophisticated and powerful mobile technology tools have in education delivery and outreach to marginalized groups, more particularly women and girls from poorer communities over the next 5 to 10 to 15 years towards newly defined educational goals for 2030? And as we strive to engage in a post-2015 education and development agenda how can mobile technology be leveraged to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’? These questions permeated the MLW discussions and exhibitions and presentations – rippling and undulating throughout the underpinning themes of change and making a difference in the lives of women and girls.
About grandmothers, aunts, mothers and daughters….
Key note addresses set the tone for the week of debate on the potent mix of mobile technology, women’s empowerment and educational change for social and economic development. Of note were insights from the key note speaker Cherie Blair of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. “Education for women has benefits not only for women themselves, but also for their families and local economies. An educated woman will know her rights, will pass the value of education to her children, and will generate economic development for the local community”, she said. Cherie believes that technology has the potential to address inequalities and drive development on a global scale like never before.
Mary says the Mobile Learning Week had many ideas, experiences, models, and pilots to challenge her thinking and bring new perspectives back on mobile technology use to inform programmes and projects in GESCI. One outstanding presentations for Mary was the overview of UNESCO’s work in mobile learning where Fengchun Miao and Mark West presented on teacher development among other themes. The presentation high;ighted how UNESCO is utilizing inexpensive technology to build the capacities of teachers to technology literacy, knowledge deepening and knowledge community levels for transformative practice. These ideas and resources can inform GESCI’s on-going engagements in Strengthening Innovative Practice in Secondary Education – an initiative to build teacher capacity in Tanzania and Kenya in the use of low cost mobile technologies, open education resources and other ICT and non-ICT resources available in schools – to facilitate school based teacher experimentation and reflection on the use of technology to support a range of teaching styles that can promote deeper learning in Science, Technology, English and Mathematics subjects.
Indeed the myriad of learning and networking opportunities in a fast paced and crowded week gave a glimpse of the emerging potentials of mobile technology ‘to change everything ‘– to create exciting parameters for women’s empowerment and to expand the arenas for new and expansive forms of learning that will be both innovative, flexible and borderless.