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MILLEE: Mobile Technology And Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies

written by: •edited by: Rebecca Scudder•updated: 3/29/2009

In rural India, where almost half of school-age children can’t go to school, because they need to work to help support their families, cell phones are serving as m-learning educational resource that the children can access anywhere and anytime.

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    What is MILLEE?

    Primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (USA) under Grant No. 0326582, (The Mobile, and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies), the MILLEE m-learning research project—which grew out of University of California, Berkeley, student Mathew Kam’s doctoral research on using programmable phone and educational computing—aims to enhance access to literacy among children of school-going age in the developing world.

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    Where Did MILLEE Come From?

    Started in the summer of 2004, when Kam made a visit to India, MILLEE employs 35 commercial, state-of-the-art language learning software programs. “We tried not to reinvent the wheel,” Kim—who will join the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University as an Assistant Professor in January 2009—states in an interview posted at the site Share Ideas.org Mobile Knowledge for Social Change.

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    What Can MILLEE 's Mobile Technology Do?

    The original software—adapted to reflect traditional village games in India—was broken down into many screens, exposing learners to different aspects of the English language, including sentence structure, and both spoken forms and spellings of different words. MILLEE's m-learning technology was designed to build on the knowledge gained through earlier games and help the learner keep the information fresh as they played additional games.

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    What’s Next For MILLEE?

    In the Share Ideas.org Mobile Knowledge for Social Change interview, Kim describes The MILLEE Project’s goals, some of its research findings, and next steps . . . In India, we hope to expand the work we started in the original pilot to the scale of 800 students in 20 rural schools. That will enable us to conduct a more credible evaluation on the learning benefits – or lack of – from cell phone-based language learning.

    Now in talks with potential sponsors to provide cell phones and financial support, Kim is looking to expand the project in the U.S., Verizon having already provided some funding to see how MILLEE's mobile technology for education could be used to target Spanish-speaking immigrants in America. The Verizon Foundation has a long history of supporting quality educational resources and literacy programs.