I'm looking for opinions and advice.
I'm a learning technologist at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and I've been asked for some advice by some colleagues in medicine, but while I know a bit about education and technology, I know next to nothing about the infrastructure or culture of places like Malawi (and it's not just Malawi) where they wish to use the technology. :-/
Basically, as I understand it, they wish to improve local understanding of various preventable/curable diseases and the treatment for various others (such as, I assume HIV). I think there's also a desire to help with crop disease identification and the appropriate treatment for that too.
My advice to them so far has been to not be too ambitious with technology (i.e. not even basic smart phones or internet) and stick to tried and tested tech like SMS, and focus more on using innovative and imaginative (and robust) ways of using it (well designed learning). I'm keen that it should be something that is in the hands of the community that uses it and is flexible enough to be adaptable to their own needs by each community.
It sounds to me like FLSMS is the perfect tool for that. We also have a simple tool that we developed to author and deliver 'branching tree' simulations via SMS to our students that I think would integrate nicely with FLSMS. While I'm not sure that simulations are necessarily useful in this instance, it could just as easily be used for diagnostic keys (disease diagnosis) or the delivery of formative quizzes.
The big unknown for me is whether there is the mobile phone infrastructure in rural communities (reception), the access to the phones (phone features, cost and distribution) and even the access to the message credits (affordability).
Could anyone enlighten me as to whether I'm thinking along the right lines?