One of the biggest challenges facing international policy makers in the field of education is how and in what to invest limited resources. The goal of creating a well-educated and highly skilled populace is one shared by governments around the world. Increasingly, information and communication technology devices, including mobile phones and tablets, are being used as educational tools to help achieve this goal. However, the combination of political will and technology working towards the development of a knowledge society has, until now, had a strong focus on formal learning and education. By allocating most or all of education spending to formal learning, and in the absence of any other learning type in national education frameworks, governments and policymakers have devoted much time, money and attention to traditional learning types to the detriment of an equally important learning type: informal learning.
Examples of successful informal learning projects – both bottom up and top down – from countries including South Africa, Ireland and the Philippines demonstrate how governments can take initial steps towards assigning positive value to informal learning. These examples show how meaningful integration of informal learning on mobile devices can become a part of a nation’s education framework. Furthermore, an extended case study from Kenya conducted by the author highlights how informal learning on mobile devices, even for traditionally marginalised populations, can be a medium of support to cultivating a knowledge society through something as simple as providing access to books. Based on the “best practice” examples and research findings from the case study, governments and policymakers need to consider the following recommendations in order to help realise the potential of informal learning on mobile devices.