Smart, MMSU partner for Ilokano learning app

Learning will soon be even more fun for Ilokano kids, as PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications works with the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac, Ilocos Norte to create an educational app in the local language.

From January 30 to February 2, communication and computer science students of the university participated in workshops organized by Smart to learn how to write scripts, create video storyboards, and do animation and sound production. Armed with these skills, they will help develop a literacy app to be used by Ilokanos aged 4 to 9, or those enrolled from Kinder to Grade 3. The app will be free to download.

Before the app’s launch, projected to happen within the year, a team composed of language, education, and culture experts will review the materials to ensure language accuracy and cultural appropriateness.

Smart partnered with MMSU upon the recommendation of Dr. Aurelio Agcaoili, an Ilokano author and renowned academician from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Dr. Marlina Lino, an associate professor at the MMSU College of Arts and Sciences, said the Ilokano literacy app is an effort of the university to come up with learning content that is research-based and validated by linguistic scholars, researchers, and accredited Ilokano interpreters.

Smart has been partnering with the Department of Education (DepEd) and academic organizations to create fun and interactive apps in various local languages, including those of indigenous groups, to help improve learning among Filipinos. This effort is aligned with the DepEd’s implementation of Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE).

Moreover, studies show that the managed use of digital tools can boost the literacy of young students and heighten their interest in learning. This is why Smart has donated mobile devices packed with learning content to underserved public schools.

A big bonus from the initiative is the training received by students and teachers of partner-schools. According to game development instructor John Vincent Toribio of MMSU, the partnership with Smart enables both teachers and students to expand their learning beyond the classroom.

“They are not just limited to learning within the classroom but also from outside experts,” he said.

Meanwhile, graduating communication student Brett Andrew Rikke Bungcayao said the workshop is beneficial to students like him.

“It’s a fresh opportunity for us to unleash our potential. It’s innovative and we can use it when we apply for work,” he said.

Groups who want to partner with Smart to develop localized literacy apps for other languages may send an email to [email protected].