Mobile Phone as Scaffolding Technology: How Low Literacy Groups Might Learn Computing
11 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2012
Date Written: August 15, 2007
Can the use of mobile phones by low computer literacy populations help them also learn computing? This paper argues that it can help. We are claiming that theories of metaphors and mental models, as well as the role of social networks in the diffusion o innovation, suggest that people with low computer literacy probably use their experience with fixed line telephones to learn how to use a mobile phone, and that by the same scaffolding process, they might use their skills and knowledge gained from using mobile phones to learn how to use other computing systems, such as personal computers (Kavanaugh, 2004).
The mobile phone could act as a bridging (or scaffolding) technology in this learning process because people with low computer literacy, especially in developing countries, are more likely to own a mobile phone than a personal computer (Schement & Forbes, 2000; ITU, 1995-2004). Low literacy groups also have the social network built in to use a mobile phone for communication, as well as for informal learning and help with how to use their own mobile phone. Ultimately, mobile phone use could be very important in helping large segments of the world’s peripheral population gain computing skills that provide myriad advantages, including: 1) allowing them to access resources that are increasingly available online, 2) securing better employment opportunities that require some computing skills, and 3) helping them generally reap the benefits of an information society and economy. Finally, in this paper we suggest various technology design modifications that help to support mobile phone use among low literacy groups.
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