This post is really about demonstrating Geocommons, a nifty tool for visualizing and mapping large datasets. In this instance, I was merely playing around with the datasets that are already preloaded there, but I suspect it would work equally well with data you would personally load. In this case I am visualizing higher education and training (per 100 people) compared to mobile money transfer and mobile subscription rates. I have this lurking suspicion that there is some correlation between money mobility (fluid transfer of funds throughout the country) and higher education rates. My hunch is that greater mobility of funds will eventually spell higher rates of participation in higher education (if higher education is equated as a luxury good). 

One thing that is interesting that rates of participation in higher education do not appear to be increasing anywhere (at least not significantly) and in some instances (looking at you, Nigeria), they are actually decreasing. This could have a lot to do with general economic downturns and less expendable income, but that notion is somewhat contrary to the high rate of remittances taking place in these countries via mobile money (and the upswings in use of mobile money overall). Money is flowing at rates equal to or greater than in prior years so can we assume that the rate of mobile money increasing is a byproduct of more money being circulated overall?

Or perhaps mobile money is further indication of a developing nation ingenuity, a workaround of formal structures (in this case banks, but certainly applies to higher education as well). I would like to see some linkages between the rate of mobile money use and participation in higher education. This could easily be facilitated by higher education by allowing for mobile payments and micropayments, allowing for short courses and short accreditation cycles, allowing for mlearning at scale. Creating a mobile learning economy modeled on mobile money, where the ease of flow of information, collaboration, knowledge itself is the currency of the realm. 

In short, go and play around with Geocommons.

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

2 thoughts on “Geocommons: African Mobile Money and Higher Education visualized”
  1. Thanks for using GeoCommons – cool post!A quick tip on embedding the GeoCommons map – if you change the height in the iframe you can create more space for the legend and map.For example change:iframe src=”” height=”300″ width=”100%”></iframe>To:iframe src=”” height=”650″ width=”100%”></iframe>

  2. Thanks, Sean! Good tip and a great service. I will be using it much more in the coming months to visualize some research data I am working with. Much appreciated!

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