OER use on mobile phones, esp in Global South

Dear OE Global colleagues -

Do you have a perspective on using OER on mobile phones, especially in the Global South?

MIT OpenCourseWare is seeking to challenge, validate and refine some assumptions about mobile phone use that we made last year in launching our new mobile-responsive website, with the hope this would increase OER accessibility for people whose only or main device is a smartphone. We’re wondering specifically about things like typical data plans, how people manage their viewing of videos and larger (>1 MB?) files within those data plans, and the viability and usefulness of downloading lots of materials onto one’s phone for use when offline or in an unreliable service area.

If you have a perspective on this personally, love to hear about it in this thread. Also very appreciative of any contacts or thoughts you’d be willing to share with me directly.

Many thanks!
Curt Newton
Director, MIT OpenCourseWare


I can connect you with some 5th graders using used Androids in a class without WiFi or data connections. https://sabier.org/

Assumptions may not be useful.

Hello Curt, I can just share that the Unesco used to hold a “mobile learning week” I attended twice Mobile Learning Week 2020 (unesco.org). There had been also some projects already sometimes ago to push short text of learning contents to the learners based only on text. Finally, I am writing down a project currently where I think a lot of “pushing” OER. Have a nice day / afternoon! here it’s time to go to bed :slight_smile:

That’s an interesting and key question though I wonder how you extrapolate from personal usage. I guess the data is there from providers.

There’s this wide look at global data use


And look I’ve burned from free views of data :wink:

I’m a big fan of Kiwix though I do not know of any details on its usage in education settings


I’d ping in @Anthere whose Wikifundi projects works in these contexts in Africa.

Hi Curt - at the OER Foundation, we’ve been providing OER-based courses with a mobile-first delivery-mechanism with a focus on learners (and educators) in the Global South for a few years now.

We have found that a slight majority of the learners accessing our OER courses are doing so via mobile devices. All our materials and delivery technologies are Free and Open Source, so we’re happy to share what we’ve learnt! I don’t believe that we’ve assessed the data plans of users (we do survey many learners after they’ve participated, but I don’t think we’ve included that question in the surveys).

I do know that we learned recently that some participants in the Pacific Islands (where connectivity is especially sporadic) often take screenshots or photographs (via personal cellphone of institutional computer screens) of content that they’re concerned about maintaining access to.

Dear @cjnewton
Allow me to share a little experience with you. Please excuse my improving English. I’m in a French country
To use the mobile for learning, I’ve noted a few rules to follow:
1- Don’t have files independent of the course for participants to download. It’s best to use “progressive web app” (PWA) technology to enable the course to be downloaded to the mobile as an application. You can continue to update the course. No files such as pdf or video should be downloaded independently.
2- If you need feedback from participants, preferably use an html page where they can write their response directly. Don’t expect them to send you docx or pdf files. It’s difficult for participants to produce these on their cell phones.
3- Serious games are good for mobile learning
4 - Encourage participants, if they can afford it, to bring USB sticks with Type C ports onto which they can install their course modules directly from their phones, to free up phone memory.

This is my contribution. I hope you’ll find it useful.

Hi Curt,
I am sharing some insights from India. (I work as a teacher educator and have exposure across the country.)
India has high penetration of mobile phones (around 50% of population) and highest use of internet since it is the cheapest, I guess, in the world. Average daily usage per person according to Statista is 4 hr 35 mins which is slightly higher than the global average.
Mostly, people watch videos online rather than downloading. This is because the phones/ devices donot have the needed ‘space’ and since internet is cheaper, it makes sense to watch it online rather than storing junk in the phone and spend time cleaning it later. The prefered platform is YouTube again for the same reason. We have a LOT of school teachers having their own channels to teach, schools and Higher Education Institutions also promote it as per directives from Apex bodies. The next in consumption comes from Facebook and Instagram. We donot have Tiktok.
The usual data plans after COVID range in the 1 GB to 3 GB per day as per what I see around in towns, but Statista would give you accurate details. There is good internet -wi-fi, fibre and other data providers in towns and a little less in rural parts. People here share their devices (I know, may sound horrifying to many here with regards to privacy) and sometimes sit together and watch so that those who do not have adequate data. In educational institutions, to overcome this data inadequacy, downloaded videos are also projected in a class. In institutions which have better facilities, also have closed LAN and servers which can be used for this.
Hope this helps to get some insight.

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Thank you all for your thoughts and suggestions here - very much appreciated!