Thanks to Mike Cronin at the Pittsburgh Tribune for his great article about MILLEE, one of our 2008 HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation Digital Media & Learning competition winners. Read an excerpt below.
(Please note, however, that Sheryl Grant is Director of Social Networking for the Digital Media & Learning competition, and does not head the competition as mentioned in the article. Those credits go to Cathy Davidson, David Theo Goldberg of HASTAC and Craig Wacker at the MacArthur Foundation.)
Cellphones used to teach English
It's like the American equivalent of learning English by playing Grand Theft Auto or Halo.
Matthew Kam, 32, a Carnegie Mellon University computer scientist, has developed computer games with audio and visual components that resonate with students learning English in rural India, China and Kenya.
The games will be programmed into low-cost phones and presented so the students can hear and see spoken words and letters, Kam said.
"Those responsible for teaching students English in these areas don't know English themselves," Kam said. "In India, we found that even after five years of taking English as a Foreign Language, students still couldn't spell their names."
Knowing English is the marker that differentiates the middle class from lower classes in many countries, Kam said, and opens doors to jobs in fields ranging from customer service to health care.
"English-language skills are key in many countries from which we provide services, including India and China," said Jim Finlaw, a New York-based spokesman for Accenture, a global outsourcing, technology and consulting company.
About 243,000 international medical graduates were working in the United States in 2007, according to the most recent data provided by the American Medical Association in Washington.
Kam won a $238,000 grant last year from the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Advanced Collaboratory and The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to study how students in the Uttar Pradesh of North India used their cell phones.
Click here for the full article.