Almost 700 students have enrolled and are taking the mobile app development online course offered by Smart Communications, in partnership with the University of the Philippines Open University (UP-OU), proving the increasing popularity and pervasive potential of mEducation for the country.
The course is the country’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOCC) to date and it was co-developed with UP-OU, the nation’s Center of Excellence in Distance and Open Learning. It started accepting online students for the course in July last year.
The online course is part of Smart’s Internet for All efforts in the areas of mEducation and mLearning to help extend the reach of educational institutions through Internet and mobile technologies. Smart will be expanding the number of courses and is working with UP-OU to further improve the online learning system.
To further boost efforts in mEducation, Smart is also set to commence with the launch of the eUP Project, a key initiative under the University of the Philippines’ Strategic Plan with the goal of making the state university more competitive in the region. For this project, Smart is providing WiFi connectivity and access points that will link all of its seven campuses and its Open University program.
Under the agreement, websites whitelisted by UP and Smart can be accessed for free over WiFi inside UP campuses. Sites that are not whitelisted can be accessed for free within a set limit of minutes per day. Data usage beyond that period will be charged the usual rates. For the project, Smart will install numerous hotspots in various UP campuses.
Smart’s project complements the initiative of PLDT which won the competitive bidding for the core programs needed to run the eUP Project. Under the contract, PLDT will enable the university’s electronic management system that help provide an integrated infrastructure across all UP campuses and units.
Smart and PLDT are in discussions for similar efforts in other colleges and universities across the country.
“On top of connecting learning institutions with broadband infrastructure, it’s important also that students have access to the mobile Internet as well as relevant digital services. Increasing digital literacy among our youth and teachers will definitely help make our emerging workforce more competitive worldwide.” said Ramon R. Isberto, Smart public affairs group head.
“That’s why we’re committed to be a partner not just in terms of providing infrastructure but also through education and development programs that can benefit the nation.” he added.
Aside from the schools WiFi initiative, Smart has been pioneering in the mEducation space through various offerings. For example, Smart has its Alternative Learning System app – available for download on Google Play –and an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solution that contains courses that can be accessed through feature phones to help non-formal mobile teachers and learners, including Out-of-School Youths (OSYs).
These solutions form part of Smart’s support for the National Youth Commission program Abot Alam and the initiative has been cited by international agencies such as the GSM Association as a “first commercial collaboration with multi-stakeholder partnerships for mEducation to support OSYs” in its country report last December 2014.
To help develop industry-ready graduates in the technology sector, Smart has been running its industry-academe innovation initiative SWEEP (Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program) since 2003 and to date, the program has produced thousands of successful engineers for the work-force as well as a number of technology startup founders.
“mEducation and mLearning will help bridge socio-economic divide through digital inclusion. With technology, even young people from families with limited financial circumstances can have a fighting chance to have a boost in life through education” said Isberto.