The Challenge


How might we increase the availability of affordable learning tools & services for students in the developing world? read the brief


TV and sms ”classroom” setting

The ideal face-to-face classroom situation is when each student follows the thread of the lecture and can answer the interactive questions posed by the lecturer/trainer/teacher. Implementing this ideal in a distance education context using existing contemporary methods such as the Internet might be expensive for a developing country.
The Concept will use mobile technology’s Short Messaging Service along with perceived live telecast to create an ‘almost’ ideal classroom situation for distance learning using the Question based Participation technique.
It combines live telecast and SMS technology to deliver the content and get student responses
Focus is on using electronic means to provide education as cellphones and television have high penetration power in rural areas. Already some of the NGO's delivers pre-recorded non-interactive TV programs for its lectures. The objective is to test a method that would make these pre-recorded lessons interactive.
SMS technology can be used for replying to multiple choice questions which provides
a feedback mechanism to the teacher about the students understanding of the class. It also monitors attendance and provide feedback to the student.
Who would implement this?
  1. A big company
  2. A local entrepreneur or small organization
  3. A globally-based social entrepreneur
  4. NGOs and Foundations
  5. I would!
  6. I don’t really know
In Developing countries, while using mobiles is still considered relatively costly, the coverage of the mobile telephones is now countrywide. Increased competition among the mobile phone service providers is also decreasing the costs and use is increasing rapidly.
Distribution & Delivery
Concept utilizes existing technological infrastructure already present to promote learning via distance tuition. This means there is no immediate need for Internet and expensive bandwidth to establish interactive distance tuition.
Like the bioscope, Screen and story telling always fascinates kids, so this concept will progress on children's natural curiosity to learn. The adults could use the television as a source of entertainment in evenings thus making it readily acceptable with adults. The use of televisions at nights could be further used for revenue generation
Local Need. Enterprising Schools has identified key areas of need for Affordable Private Schools. What local learning need(s) does this concept address?
  1. English language learning (speaking, reading, writing)
  2. Math learning
  3. Libraries
  4. Tech literacy
  5. Professional development
  6. Other


Join the conversation and post a comment.

Teresa Tarn

September 18, 2010, 17:00PM
I love this idea!

In 2007, i tried a similar idea when I taught in Indonesia since practically all of my students owned a cell phone (i.e. for for their assignment, having them text me a use of a taught Grammar pattern when encountered out of school). But due to the lack of a centralized, organized system, it was difficult for me to efficiently keep track and assess the responses as well as provide feedback for my 30+ students.

I think with the advent of real-time text-based survey technologies, this concept is definitely feasible with multiple-choice questions. The main things I'm curious about revolve around how the progress reports will organized and how they will be delivered to the teacher (text/mail/internet).

smriti mehrotra

September 17, 2010, 19:06PM
10 - 15 mobiles could be kept with the teacher and are distributed when ever the class starts and as the class gets over the phones are returned back to the teacher for the next session , in this way not many phones will need to be purchased

Vincent Cheng

September 17, 2010, 16:14PM
Interesting way of combining the interactivity of mobiles with the scale of television, especially when the teacher is unavailable or does not have the requisite knowledge/experience in a particular area.

Looks like sending a text message in India currently costs ~1-3 cents per message, or ~1 cent for every 10 messages at the company bulk rate (some companies have also offered free text messaging to promote various services). Receiving a text message is free. Assuming you can get the bulk rate, cost is within reason: the direct text messaging fees to provide 1 student with say a year of weekly 1 hour programs, w/ 20 messages per program (10 messages sent by the student, 10 responses sent back to the student; interaction every 6 minutes), is ~$1 at the bulk rate.

Costs could be further lowered if 1) a carrier could be convinced to subsidize the educational text messages as a social campaign, 2) simple text-based mobile phones were acquired through donations.
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