Saturday, 19 October, 2013

Paper Review: Using mobile phones to promote lifelong learning among rural women in Southern India

Balasubramanian, K., Thamizoli, P., Umar, A., & Kanwar, A. (2010). Using mobile phones to promote lifelong learning among rural women in Southern India. Distance Education, 31(2), 193–209.
This paper reports experience from a project in which mobile phones given to 320 rural women entrepreneurs were used for promoting lifelong learning. A survey sample size was 73 and sampling method was random sampling. Qualitative analysis was done using anthropological tools and participatory rural appraisal techniques such as focus group discussions, participatory observation and structured interviews. Based on this study, the authors conclude that the domestication of technology, with elements of appropriation, objectification, incorporation and conversion, has taken place in the context of cognitive social capital and social learning capital. The appropriation of mobile phone in the context of bank credit and lifelong learning has helped to create an identity for phone as a learning and business tool. Using mobile phone while managing animals, listening to audio messages and voicemails and recording messages for discussion and peer review, sharing the messages in the neighbourhood, workplaces and Self-Help-Group meetings, discussing various aspects of  goat rearing, all these have strengthened the objectification, incorporation and conversion processes.

The paper makes use of Domestication of Technology Framework to explain how mobile phones were used by rural women entrepreneurs as a lifelong learning tool. It discusses following four elements of domestication of technology framework:
  • Appropriation refers to access, ownership and possession of technology.
  • Objectification refers to the object and its use in the household economy.
  • Incorporation refers to the way in which objects are used in a temporal context.
  • Conversion refers to the way in which the object is used as a currency.
The contribution of paper is not so much explicitly stated though we can sense the value of this research conducted in an unusual context.

The thought process that technology such as mobile phones can be used for learning only after it gets domesticated is new to me. It has given me new direction in my thinking about use of technology in education.

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