mLearning in Kenya: Interview on my research objectives

This interview was a piece that was intended to be published in Royal Holloway, University of London’s university magazine, but did not make the cut. I share it here so everyone can learn more about the objectives for my research in Kenya.

Girls are one of the most marginalised segments of Kenyan society. Early pregnancy, a lack of sanitary napkins, and the expectation that they will stay at home to care for relatives makes attending school more difficult for girls than for boys. Ronda Zelezny-Green, a PhD student in ICT4D, has been researching ways in which secondary school-age girls might achieve the education and lives they want by using a technology increasingly found in Kenyan homes – the mobile phone.

Whilst undertaking fieldwork in Nairobi, conducted as part of her Royal Holloway MSc with support from an Irene Marshall Travel Grant, Ronda discovered that girls at her research site used mobile phones to seek and obtain academic support whilst at home. Whilst new mobile learning – or mLearning – technologies looked like a promising way to help the girls, as a trained teacher, Ronda knew that many of the currently available systems did not encourage the kinds of social learning experiences that benefit the girls most.

RZG mLearning in Kenya

“Frequently the creators of these systems are not trained educators,” says Ronda. “I hope to take what exists now and, together with the girls and their wider communities, create a truly social mobile learning experience for after-school use that could have benefits not just for the learners, but for the entire school community.”

In July and August 2013, with the support of a Helen Shackleton Fund Award, Ronda interviewed female students, their teachers, principals and parents at two secondary schools in and near Nairobi to talk about the kinds of learning activities that the girls were participating in outside school. She explored their overall experience of using mobile phones along with any educational uses.

Ronda hopes that her work will contribute to future Kenyan government policy on the use of mobile devices in education. “The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) is a partner of my PhD work,” she told us. “My aim is to help the government continue its push towards becoming a knowledge society as part of its Kenya Vision 2030 strategy. I think mobile learning can be a part of that drive.”

The link to the original online publication can be found here: http://www.ict4dc.org/content/mlearning-kenya

5 Comments

  1. March 4, 2014 / 1:10 am

    Would you be interested in talking about this at the GlobalNet21 and Africa Speakers Corner meetup on March 17th? It’s only a five minute slot for each speaker – so you don’t have to do a lot of preparation – and there is time for questions and discussion later. Details http://www.meetup.com/GlobalNet21/events/160672842/.

  2. Ronda Zelezny-Green
    March 4, 2014 / 9:31 am

    Hi Pamela, I would have loved to speak but I actually return to Kenya on Thursday to continue my PhD fieldwork. Best of wishes for the meetup!

  3. April 25, 2014 / 10:15 pm

    This is very interesting research topic you are cultivating. Would wish to replicate this in Tanzania. Wish you best of luck.

    • Ronda Zelezny-Green
      April 26, 2014 / 9:04 am

      Thanks so much for your comment, Deo! Ironically, I had initially planned to work in Tanzania but a twist of fate brought me to Kenya. I appreciate the luck so much!

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