Animation & cell phones: Development Aid on the way!

Photo Credit: Robert Winslow

Animation just got even cooler for me.

The Scientific Animations Without Borders Team, an inspired group of educators and faculty based at the University of Illinois, are producing animated educational videos for people in developing nations worldwide that can be downloaded and viewed, over and over, via their handy cell phones. It’s a new approach to sustainable development education that reaches a huge audience- at a fraction of the cost of traditional methods.

Picture this, would you:  A farmer in Niger learns how to protect his crops from insects. A resident of a 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….


Meteoric Impact Potential

Research shows that nearly 60 percent of the 2.4 BILLION cell phone users on the planet live in developing countries. Imagine the potential of spreading anti-cholera health information thru those channels, say in Haiti. Powerful stuff, with potentially huge impact.

The soon to be, “Used To Be…”

Traditionally, US- based educators are flown to developing nations, work with local folks in the field for several weeks to a few months, and leave. On the other hand, animated educational videos accessible via cell phones, provide a permanent educational tool readily available for dispersal to a wide number of people, 24/7.

Constant resource access. With one cell phone, a group of farmers in a rural area can receive education and information that will help change their livelihood.  Whoa.

Cool thing is, as more videos become accessible,  a collection of relevant information will be accumulated and ready for download, thus compounding the educational value of the individual videos. Rural schools, communities, tent cities, large groups of people living in temporary shelters will benefit from this stuff corporately, as well as on an individual level. Consume at your own pace, when you’re ready.

This wondrous resource is compiled in a growing library of educational videos, compiled at the sustainable development website SusDeViki. From here, the videos can be distributed around the world, downloaded and viewed on 3g cell phones. That’s handy news for say, phone users in Africa, where over 150 million people have cell phones, pushing the spread of cell phone technology there faster than anywhere else in the world. There are big plans for future vids, too: agricultural and health concerns  such as bed bugs, lice or malaria will be covered, too.

Show me the Money

Financially, the Scientific Animations Without Borders model makes a lot of sense; it’s a cheaper, cost-effective way to foster international development. Here’s why;

  • Simple, info-driven animations decrease the up-front investment of making demonstration videos on location.
  • Animated videos have a universal appeal with which live-action video can’t compare.
  • Voice dubbing can be recorded in any language with any accent or dialect. How cool is that?

Wanna know more?  Here’s a video about the Scientific Animations Without Borders Project. Inspirational.

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