No Teacher in the Classroom: Mobile Education on Tap

Photo by Edgaras Maselskis

Consider the hoops that a busy working adult has to jump through to get to a classroom to learn English as a second language or to improve their reading, math and communication skills. Work schedules don't usually fit nicely with classroom schedules. And what about childcare, meals to prepare, long wait lists in school or the long commute to get there?

We know that low literacy skills are directly linked to high unemployment, less earned income and poor health, which impacts the entire household. The impediments to opportunities can add up compounded by the sense of isolation because one cannot communicate effectively. Imagine parents not able to help their children with homework thus affecting school performance or workers who lack the leverage to negotiate for better wages because of limited literacy and language skills. Cell-Ed was conceived in response to an opportunity to deliver a revolutionary technology --adult literacy, life skills and vocational training -- in the palm of the learner's hand using a basic cell phone. Yes, it's revolutionary in its simplicity and effectiveness. A learner simply calls Cell-Ed from their cell phone to listen and complete courses. A live coach complements the voice of the teacher. Learning with Cell-Ed happens in small segments when learners can find time in their day. These segments add up to a powerful learning experience. A housekeeper named Lucia who works 18-hour shifts, five days a week, enthusiastically talked about how Cell-Ed liberated her. She can now read bus signs and is no longer afraid of getting lost. Learning is readily available at the tip of her fingers -- her cell phone -- and she can do it at her own pace and in her own time including during bus rides across town. Cell-Ed's Los Angeles-based pilot showed that learners leaped two years - in about four months - when they completed the adult literacy course. They also showed high adherence to the course at a rate of 75%, a startling jump compared to classroom-based settings that reported between 20% to 50% adherence.

But there is more work to be done. The number of adults who lack access to basic literacy and job skills is significant. Over 46 million working adults in the US lack basic skills and less than 5% have access to classroom, according to survey results of 500 top executives conducted by PIACC. Cell-Ed offers a flexible, mobile solution: it delivers adult education and workforce training over any type of mobile phone. This is what sets Cell-Ed apart and ahead of its competitors who rely on classroom-based instruction, online courses or mobile apps that require Internet access and data plans. Cell-Ed is optimized to scale language, literacy and job training for Spanish-speaking learners and those with low levels of literacy. Cell-Ed works in partnership with employers, governments, NGOs, labor unions, immigrant-serving agencies and adult education providers. Partners have included SEIU, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Los Angeles Public Library, Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Los Angeles, the States of New York and Texas.

With Cell-Ed's digital learning platform, the power for positive change is placed in the hands of the learners, acquiring skills and tools they need not only for daily survival but also to thrive with dignity and confidence.