Mobile phones are more practical than personal computers for teaching in rural Panama because they are affordable, offer multimedia capabilities, and are part of an established infrastructure. Involving teachers in the process of creating digital content for their classes ensures that the content meets local needs.
Most of this short paper discusses difficulties with existing mobile phone software and suggests how applications can be improved. The teachers involved in the field study were eager to create mobile phone material. Seventy-eight students and six teachers participated in the two-week study. One problem they encountered concerned the need for students to navigate between applications, for example, between the video application and the drawing application. Another difficulty was that teachers had to manually integrate image, audio, and visual files. A third difficulty involved the kinds of cellphones used: many lacked features such as autofocus, an audio quality indicator, and autosave, and many had problems combining video, still images, and audio. A more general problem is controlling how mobile phones are used in schools, avoiding distractions and misuse in class.
The paper is readable. The authors’ experiences should be helpful to people planning to use mobile phones for teaching. I recommend it.