In 2008, Nokia and the South African government collaborated together to create a mobile phone application to promote applied learning through mathematics. This became known as MoMath (Mobile Mathematics) and it fuses with South Africa’s most popular social media platform MXit.
In Africa, because of the technological capabilities of the mobile phone, more people are using their phones to connect and communicate than PCs or laptops. A decade ago, mobile phones were considered a luxury, and now they are a necessity to modern life. MoMath takes advantage of the cheap access to this device, and thus the phone can be used as an educational tool in an environment where education can be sparse and dysfunctional in a developing society.
The application works through MXit, which is a social media platform on the phone, and they claim to have 50 million users in Africa who use their messaging service. The popularity of this free service enables MoMath to be used in schools. Students are sent study packets, exams, self-assessment activities, and teacher feedback. Furthermore, students can communicate with teachers and other students, thus creating an educational connection among students who can channel their mathematical questions and concerns. Roughly 70% of the work done on MoMath is done outside of the classroom, thus cutting down on the possible distractions when devices are used within the school walls.
MoMath and MXit are excellent examples of social networking fusing together with education, but many parents disagree and think of them as a distraction. The ability to communicate with other students on MoMath can be abused when used in the classroom and at home. Several schools, teachers, and parents in Africa have blamed MXit for lower exam scores and time spent less of academics.
This technological deterministic viewpoint doesn’t consider the fact that procrastination stems from the laziness of the student, and not MXit. Social media has been blamed for cutting off one-on-one interactions, but MoMath encourages peer-to-peer learning with a direct connection to the teacher who can provide feedback and offer improvement. Those who do not abuse MXit and MoMath, and consistently takes advantage of the study packages it offers gain new skills and improve upon their academic learning.
The in-class final exams greatly improve when students do the study exercises and participate. Studies have shown that the students are retaining their new knowledge and skills rather than simply memorizing for their benefit on the exams. As a result, the number of students participating in the early test stages of the program jumped from 280 to 4,000 within one year.
The South African government has held MoMath within a few certain regions around the north and western cape, but they have plans on extending the service throughout the rest of the country. Furthermore, Finland has caught on with the success of MoMath, and there are plans to bring the service into some of their secondary schools. This Finnish use of MoMath generates the ability to create an international communication and connection between people using MoMath. The exchange of information and ideas between Finland and South Africa can not only improve the student and teacher, but also the ergonomics of MoMath.
With the introduction of MoMath in Finland, do you think we will see more services like MoMath being used in first-world countries?
Do you think this service creates a proper environment for leaning within the classroom, or do you think the distractions will nullify the intentions of MoMath?