Cellphones in Asian Classroom

The latest and seventh volume of the 'Digital Review of Asia Pacific,' released at a function here, highlights the power of new communication technologies in the field of education. In the Philippines, the cellphone and SMS are being used as the primary means for interactive learning. SMS is also being used to inform students of schedule changes, deadlines, examination regulations, grades, new courses and library resources. Student groups and organisations use the cellphone to publicise social activities, job fairs and book discounts as well as for voting in student elections. University administrators use cellphones to coordinate the admissions process to conduct marketing campaigns and announce grants, surveys, policies and emergency information like bad weather and suspension of classes.

In Indonesia, Mongolia and the Philippines, the focus of e-learning innovation is also the cellphone. The review, also called the DirAP, aims to 'serve as a guide for (information and communication technologies) ICT-related policy development, planning, research, and project implementation' in the world's most populous continent. It is put together by the Orbicom Network of Unesco Chairs in Communication (Canada), the International Development Research Centre of Canada, and SAGE Publications India at New Delhi. The report points to some interesting aspects such as studies show that while most students in South Asia use computers, very few have Internet access, ironically, the most important problem to Internet-based distance education in the Asia-Pacific region – the widespread lack of net access – has been discussed little, India, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, the Philippines and Thailand were found to be needing a distance education boost, Bangladesh, says the DirAP report, is a country giving considerable attention to linking literacy with economic affairs. But in China, it says, inter-sectoral coordination is critical for lifelong learning and linking education with poverty alleviation, the report says the Asia-Pacific region needs organisational upgrading, training to advance distance education in the region.

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