World Economic Forum: YGL Task Force on ICTD

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As some of you are aware, I was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum earlier this year. Apart from attending the forum meetings, members of the forum run the WEF task forces on global issues.

This year, along with a group of other members, I started the task force on ICT for Development -- aimed at design and use of technology for the developing world with the aim to help alleviate poverty, enable better health care and access to education.

As part of this effort, we ran a small experimental course at LUMS during this summer to explore the use of mobile phones and SMS to provide basic Maths education. Two teams of students independently developed interactive "maths games" that emulate the experience of a student sitting through a real quiz in a classroom setting, albeit using cellphones and SMS. These SMS-based maths games enable a group of people to compete with each other as well as adapt the difficulty of the questions based on the estimated skill of the player. We found that SMS provides a powerful tool for both enhancing interactivity in distance education and for introducing under privileged children to basic maths and sciences.

As part of the course, our students maintained their own blogs, which include preliminary experimental results and video footage of experiments. Take a look at the blogs at:

http://educationbysms.blogspot.com/

http://smstolearn.blogspot.com/

At this stage, we are seeking more ideas, feedback and partners to develop this idea further. Pakistan has close to 100 million cellphone users -- your ideas on how we can leverage cell phones for education would be very welcome! 

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