obile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies


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The MILLEE research project aims to enhance access to literacy among children of school-going age in the developing world. More specifically, we aim to complement the formal schooling system by applying mobile learning technology to augment educational opportunities in out-of-school settings.

In order to make the literacy challenge more tractable, however, we are currently focusing on English language literacy in rural India. But we expect our lessons to be applicable to other languages and to other developing regions throughout the world.

English is widely seen as a key to socioeconomic success in India. English is taught in almost all schools: as a second language in public schools, and as a first language and the medium of instruction in most private schools. Fluency in English can almost be equated with membership in the middle and upper classes. A recent article states that mastery of English is the "single most influential factor that determines access to elite educational institutions, and hence to important avenues of economic and social advancement." Language competency is also the biggest barrier to technology empowerment, e.g. 90% of the indigenous web content in India is in English.

Our approach recognizes the limitations with the government school system and seeks to complement it through out-of-school learning made possible by mobile technology.  In particular, low-income children from these settings need to work for the family in the agricultural fields or homes and find it difficult to attend school regularly. Several teachers who are required to teach English are also not able to communicate with us in English.   


Our project is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (USA) under Grant No. 0326582. We have received support to conduct a longitudinal pilot evaluation through a Digital Media and Learning award from the MacArthur Foundation and a BREW Wireless Reach prize award from Qualcomm Inc. The speech recognition component is supported by a Microsoft Research 'Digital Inclusion' Award.  Other sources of financial support include the Intel Undergraduate Research Program and a prize award from the Bears Breaking Boundaries 2006 competition (serious games category). We thank Seeqpod Inc. for travel sponsorship and Sony Creative Software for their sponsorship-in-kind.

Our website is designed by Monish Subherwal.

Questions? Contact Matthew Kam: mattkam@cs.berkeley.edu
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