Science classes in elementary schools will soon experience the benefits of multimedia learning.

A new project called text2teach officially launched using the power of mobile technology to deliver rich educational content to teachers and students even in the most outlying areas of the country.

text2teach is the initial Philippine-wide pilot of Bridgeit, a global program developed jointly by Nokia, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), Pearson and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The four organizations combined their expertise in technology, training, content, and processes to create an impact on the learning of young people.

In the Philippines, text2teach is spearheaded by Ayala Foundation in cooperation with the Department of Education and local partners Globe Telecom, Nokia-Philippines, SEAMEO INNOTECH, PMSI-Dream Broadcasting, and Chikka Asia.

text2teach enables teachers to use mobile phones supplied by Nokia to request more than 80 full-length videos provided by Pearson, each of which introduces and illustrates a key component of the Philippine science curriculum. Upon texting, the requested video will be sent via satellite to a digital recorder connected to a television in the teacher’s classroom. Each video’s interactive demonstration of science concepts and ideas is expected to benefit both teachers and students.

Explains Ayala Foundation president Victoria P. Garchitorena:

“The program will enable teachers to use digital technology to share and illustrate new ideas with their students. As a result students will have the opportunity to learn new skills, to participate actively in classroom lessons with their teacheres, and to learn and see more about the world around them.”

The project implementation will begin in June in the 5th and 6th grades of 40 schools in key areas including Quezon City, Batangas, Laguna and Cotabato City. Ayala Foundation has been tapped as the project leader in the Philippines to ensure that the program achieves its desired impact. Together with the Department of Education and SEAMEO INNOTECH, The International Youth Foundation has begun training 80 teachers to use the technology to benefit more than 10,000 students across the country.

Globe Telecom, Nokia-Philippines, PMSI-Dream Broadcasting, and Chikka Asia are providing technical support to meet the hardware, software and communication requirements of the program. The Philippines was selected as the pilot venue for Bridgeit because of its good telecommunications infrastructure, Filipinos’ good command of English, and the government’s focus on education as a means to overcome poverty.

Adds SEAMEO INNOTECH director Dr. Erlinda Pefianco: “text2teach has long-term benefits, since in addition to providing quality educational materials it will provide ongoing teacher training and development.”

A successful and sustainable implementation of text2teach will encourage Bridgeit partners throughout the world to develop similar cost-effective learning solutions globally. The Philippine pilot will provide a “blueprint” for replication program in other less developed nations.

At the launch, Ayala Corporation president and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala II noted the program’s potential to bridge the digital divide by allowing learning materials to be disseminated equally among urban and rural schools.

Says Zobel: “While we cannot replace nor should we seek to the need for traditional learning materials such as textbooks, Bridgeit has opened new ways to improve learning opportunities for thousands of elementary school children throughout the Philippines through new technology. This gives us the opportunity to remake the face of education to help the poor, not only in our country, but in other developing nations as well.”