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Team delivers development aid via cell phone animations
Date:2/28/2011

CHAMPAIGN, lll. A farmer in Niger learns how to protect his crops from insects. A resident of Port-au-Prince or a rural Haitian village learns how to avoid exposure to cholera. An entrepreneur in Mali gets step-by-step instructions on extracting the oil from shea seeds to make shea butter she can sell at a local market.

These people are benefiting from a new approach to sustainable development education that reaches a much larger audience than traditional methods and at a fraction of the cost. The initiative, led by a team of extension educators and faculty at the University of Illinois, produces animated educational videos that people around the world can watch at home, over and over again, on their cell phones.

"This is a very different paradigm from some other current development projects, where U.S.-based educators are flown to another part of the world, interact with people in the field for a few weeks to several months, and leave," said University of Illinois entomology professor Barry Pittendrigh, a member of the team that is developing the animations. "From a financial perspective, this is a much cheaper way to do international development." (Watch a video about the project.)

The initiative, Scientific Animations Without Borders, takes advantage of the widespread availability of cell phones in the developing world. According to recent research, nearly 60 percent of the 2.4 billion cell phone users in the world live in developing countries.

As of 2006, more than 150 million cell phone users lived in Africa, for example, with cell phone technology spreading faster there than anywhere else in the world.

Animation reduces the costs associated with making a video on a particular topic, and allows the videos themselves to have near
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Contact: Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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