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Measuring Uptake and Engagement in an m-Learning Intervention: The Case of ChildConnect South Africa

Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC,volume 1192)


ChildConnect is a messaging service which aims to use mobile learning to support and educate parents and caregivers through an SMS curriculum of Early Childhood Development content. This paper reports on initial uptake and subsequent engagement with the ChildConnect messages. An experimental design was adopted where caregivers were randomly assigned to either a treatment or a control group. The uptake for ChildConnect from those targeted via public clinic data on pregnant women was 24%, this increased to 66% for secondary caregivers invited to join the service by a primary caregiver. Engagement was measured in terms of appetite, as well as in terms of response rates to both unincentivised and incentivised opportunities to engage. For both control and treatment groups there was clear appetite to receive more than three messages per week, with most (~78%) participants indicating that they would like to receive messages every day or every weekday. Three incentivised surveys (midline 1, midline 2 and endline) were completed by 72%, 70% and 69% of participants respectively. Between 25−55% of participants in the treatment group responded to unincentivised weekly ‘reply’ messages. Higher response rates were seen for the control group who received fewer messages and only fortnightly opportunities to reply.


  • m-Learning
  • South Africa
  • Parenting programme
  • Evaluation
  • Early childhood
  • Feature phones

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-49932-7_8
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All three authors are affiliated to the University of Johannesburg. ChildConnect was sanctioned by the South African National Department of Health and funded by Innovation Edge. The technology partner was, and the content design and evaluation research partner was Kelello, in collaboration with the Centre for Education Practice Research (CEPR), University of Johannesburg.

This research was funded by Innovation Edge, and undertaken by Kelello in collaboration with University of Johannesburg’s CEPR. We acknowledge the support and enabling environment created by Prof Henning through the South African Research Chair on the ‘Integration of Mathematics, Science and Languages in the Primary School’, funded by the National Research Fund (NRF), grant number 98573.

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Correspondence to Ingrid Mostert .

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Mostert, I., Roberts, N., Plaatjies, LA. (2021). Measuring Uptake and Engagement in an m-Learning Intervention: The Case of ChildConnect South Africa. In: Auer, M.E., Tsiatsos, T. (eds) Internet of Things, Infrastructures and Mobile Applications. IMCL 2019. Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing, vol 1192. Springer, Cham.

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