Mobiles for Education Alliance

Mobile and Immersive Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies (MILLEE)

1.      Country/Region(s): India (other related projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and China)


2.      Project owner/partner(s): Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute in collaboration with the US National Science Foundation and local partnering NGOs


3.      Main purpose of the project: Enable children to acquire language literacy through immersive language learning games for use on mobile phones 


4.      Technology

  • Device(s): Mobile phone
  • Infrastructure/platform: Electricity, mobile phone charger and or batteries, multimedia


5.      Project sample/diversity: Kam, Kumar, Shirley, Mathur & Canny (2009) reported that 27 children (ages 7-14) participated in the pilot study, mostly from “lower castes”


6.      Background/Focal area(s) of intervention: Started in 2004, MILLEE aims to develop youth reading skills through the use of game-like interfaces on mobile phones. The project focuses on reading, listening, sentence construction, and spelling (writing). It takes a cognitively based approach to teach early-grade reading using mobile-phone based language learning games that are modeled after traditional village games that are locally relevant and familiar to children.


7.      Gender/Disability factors: Unknown


8.      Content

  • Type of content/materials covered: The syllabus includes common nouns, verbs, and sentence structures. The curriculum targets listening comprehension, word recognition, sentence construction and spelling. In addition, the game has three features: adopting the style of traditional village games, two levels of hints, and a popular character from localized Sesame Street (Kam et al., 2009).
  • Content production: Created by Carnegie Mellon University in conjunction with local ESL teachers (Kam et al., 2009); the content of the game is tailored to the local context utilizing latest research in language acquisition and a review of 35 commercial language learning packages to identify best practices (Human Development Lab Carnegie Mellon University, n.d.)
  • Ownership: Proprietary


9.      Evaluation: A series of field studies were conducted between July 2004 and January 2007 with children from the urban slums and rural areas of India (Kam, Ramchandran, & Canny, 2006). The pre- and post-tests administered for the above games show statistically significant gains on small samples. Studies of an after-school program in Uttar Pradesh, India that utilized MILLEE games to assist English instruction showed significant post-test gains after the intervention (Human Development Lab Carnegie Mellon University, n.d.). Kam et al. (2009) reported that the learners with higher initial game test scores improved their scores more than those with lower initial test scores. Conversely, learners with the greatest need for ESL instruction benefited less. Such information concerning stratified differences is useful and uncommon.


10.  Project current status: Conducting data analysis and revisions; the project is awaiting further funding to complete a full year’s worth of lessons (M. Kam interview, February 1, 2013)


11.  Other/Additional information: The instructional design utilizes multimedia-based games based on the PACE (Pattern-Activity-Curriculum-Exercise) framework. Kumar, Reddy, Tewari, Agrawal, & Kam (2012) suggest that providing hints in games for language learning is like providing scaffolding lessons for learners. Results from the Indian case study suggest that hints did not sustain motivation for learners.


12.  Sources:


Project website:


Human Development Lab Carnegie Mellon University. (n.d.) Mobile and immersive learning for literacy in emerging economies (MILLEE). Retrieved from


Howell, D. C. (2008). Fundamental statistics for the behavioral sciences. 6th Ed.

Belmont, CA: Thomson.


Kam, M., Ramchandran, D., & Canny, J. (2006). MILLEE: Mobile and immersive

learning for literacy in emerging economies. Retrieved from


Kam, M., Kumar, A., Shirley, J., Mathur, A. & Canny, J. (2009). Improving literacy in rural India: Cellphone games in an after-school program. ICDT. IEEE. 2009.


Kumar, A., Reddy, P., Tewari, A., Agrawal, R., & Kam, M. (2012). Improving literacy in developing countries using speech recognition-supported games on mobile devices. In Proc. CHI, ACM (2012), 1149–1158.




Start Date: 
January 1 2004