From the MobilED blog:
The MobilED – mobile audio wiki – project was a research project we started in 2006. The most active years were 2006-2007, when we built a working prototype and conducted testing in two schools in South Africa. In 2008 we did some more testing of the service in Finland, with the idea of a mobile Craig’s list – a local community wiki with news and classifieds.
The original idea of MobilED was to bring Wikipedia to so-called “entry-level” mobile phones, which are mainly used in the Global South. In practice entry-level mobile phones are those with voice (calling) and text message facilities. With the MobilED prototype we demonstrated that this is possible. Content from Wikipedia can be searched for with a text message and the output can be a 160-character text message sent back and/or automated callback, with text-to-voice reading of the content. This works with the MobilED prototype.
In schools we conducted an experiment in which pupils not only used Wikipedia content, but also uploaded their own school projects in audio format to a server. From there their peers, friends and parents could listen to the podcasts with their entry-level mobile phones. The testing was not really successful, because the servers crashed and caused a lot of trouble for the users. My conclusion on this was that at this point the system was too complicated to be used for this purpose in schools. The experiment was, however, useful because it led us to consider MobliED from a new perspective.
This led us to experiment, in addition to the project to bring Wikipedia to mobile phones and schools, with the idea of a community-managed audio information system. With the service people could maintain their own audio wiki news/media service, with local news, classified ads etc. We made a prototype for this purpose, too. It worked but was never taken up for further development and dissemination.
In the research group we are now working with totally new challenges, such as services for smart phones/laptops and interactive whiteboards in classrooms. As you might have seen, the MobilED project and the blog have not been very active for a couple of years.
Because I think that many of the things we did in the research project are valuable, I would love to see someone taking over the project and continuing the work.
Here is my offer.
I promise to transfer all my know-how related to MobilED to you if you’ll promise to do two things:
- Finalise the mobile audio Wikipedia configuration and start to negotiate with operators/governments to provide this for free in the Global South.
- Finalise the mobile audio community news/media service and start to offer it in the Global South.
I am not the right person to create the business/sustainability plan. You must think this up and design it yourself. I may, however, give my comments on it – if you wish. I am not interested in starting another “research” project, and so I do not propose to apply for new grants for this. What I would like to see is a business or non-governmental organisation taking the product to “the market”. We also have the domain: mobiled.org.
If you are interested, please let me know: teemu.leinonen taik.fi