I have done a 180 degree turn concerning education woes: I think the perfect storm already hit education, decades ago. Now lovely lights twinkle on the horizon and golden days of learning lie ahead. This and future Golden Swamp posts will develop this new Golden Learning theme and category.
We begin with an article about The Million program proposed by David Droga last week at Advertising Age’s Idea Conference in New York. This is the crux of the approach, from an Advertising Age article about the Droga proposal:
Mr. Droga — a self-professed “advertising man” — looked beyond his field. “We went back to [the Department of Education] with a technology idea wrapped around advertising.”
The result is The Million program. Referring to the amount of students in the New York City public school system, the program involves giving away free mobile phones packed with learning tools such as a thesaurus, spell checks and an extra-help tip line to each student. The more a student uses these learning applications, the more rewards — discounts for movies, sneakers, clothes and music downloads, as well as air-time minutes and text messages — are unlocked. Additional incentives for achievement and attendance, including congratulatory voice-mail messages from, say, Derek Jeter or a wake-up call from Jay-Z, are also planned.
“What’s cooler than the iPhone is something that has almost as many applications but is free,” Mr. Droga said. In addition, the phone’s exclusive nature — only public-school students will be able to reap the benefits of it — may drive up the “badge factor,” adding to its appeal.
Naturally, there’ll be room for brands to latch onto the cause. The hardware provider, based on the video Mr. Droga showed at the conference, appears to be Motorola, though he wouldn’t confirm it. He also declined to name the service provider that’s been chosen. There’ll also be some room for advertising on the phone. After all, the phones, while provided for free to the students, won’t be completely without cost. As such, marketers will be able to infiltrate the students’ world through “responsible” sponsorships.
The pivotal value for learning that providing these phones to students would achieve is not even mentioned above. Thesauruses, spell checks and tips have important learning value. But the mobiles that the students would possess would also-and this is THE BIG ALSO-open up the Internet to them in their hands.
What only months ago was a negative in mobile learning-that walled gardens would let only elite students benefit-is wonderfully changed by The Million project approach set in the venue of more powerfully broadband mobiles. Learning applications built into handsets can vary, and provide ways for ads to fund them-while the handset itself will open the One Web Internet global knowledge commons to the student in whose hand it is held.
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