OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

"Learning, anywhere & anytime", local-cloud E-Learning system for any classroom setting, w/pre-loaded Edu apps and no internet required!

A rapid-deployment, on-line learning system for students to continue their educational experience with pre-loaded,region-specific curriculum

Photo of Richard Curtin
16 10

Written by

What problem does your innovation solve?

Our rapid-deployment PortableCloud delivers a world-class educational experience, regardless of a classroom’s access to an Internet connection. The Cube creates its own WiFi network and serves as a portable classroom server to student devices with a browser. It hosts apps and web resources to give students access to digital e-learning content and directly solves the problem of creating an on-line learning environment in any "classroom", whether that be in a refugee camp, shelter or village.

Explain your innovation.

The recently published UN Global Trends report details an increase in 2016 for Displaced Populations, closing the year at over 65.6 million people. Of this total, "there were 22.5 million that are refugees - the most ever". Clearly, the child refugees are being severely disadvantaged when it comes to education, even in the best of situations. Also, of the 65.6 million total, the report goes on to state that 40.3 million people were displaced inside their own country. Again, clearly impacting the educational continuity of school-age children. Schools in developing countries and in refugee camps face many obstacles in their efforts to give students a quality education, including limited learning resources (e.g. textbooks) and outdated teaching approaches. Utilizing e-learning solutions could alleviate these problems, but their implementation remains a challenge in low-infrastructure environments lacking Internet connectivity. Portable Devices Offer E-Learning Content — Anywhere The PortableCloud platform and Cube micro-servers allow users to access curated files, web content and web applications over WiFi using any device (tablet, chromebook, notebook PC) with a browser, regardless of Internet connectivity. The Cube provides a portable local cloud server solution for teachers and students. By enabling students to access digital e-learning content, our tools easily deliver a world-class educational experience. Each PortableCloud-Cube can serve ~40 students.

Who benefits?

Emergency situations around the world have typically focused on a model of rapid response and deployment to provide safe shelters, food and medical services. What is typically not addressed is how to have an educational experience for the children that has a method to deliver a learning environment with some semblance of continuity from their pre-emergency situation. Our solution will enable the establish of a rapid deployment of educational content to enable a classroom learning environment, specific to the region where the emergency situation has occurred. Similar to the Red Cross staging food, shelter and medical resources in different regions of the world, we will provide pre-configured PortableCloud systems and client devices (tablets, PCs & Chromebooks). The Cube will serve the students with educational content appropriate to the country' curriculum & language, spanning primary & secondary school levels. The net impact: The children will have a means to continue their education.

How is your innovation unique?

The PortableCloud product family delivers adaptive and personalized learning experiences both online and offline. Features include: -Affordable and accessible offline access to e-learning materials. -Our solution makes e-learning content accessible to a much larger part of the world, even areas that don’t have infrastructure in place internet bandwidth or where Internet connectivity is too expensive. -Curated learning apps and content to adapt to local context. -Reduced need for IT expertise with plug-and-learn setup. -You don’t have to be an IT wiz to set-up the Cube in any "classroom" setting —it's as easy as plug and learn. Alternatives in the market are mostly point solutions, either hardware-centric or educational application / e-Learning focused. Nucleos uniquely delivers a full 21st century learning platform fully configured out-of-the-box to create a robust on-line educational experience for students and a means for the educator to track individual student progress.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

We are at the beginning of our corporate journey to create a long-term sustainable social impact company. Our early efforts over the past year have focused on proving out the concept - in Zimbabwe. The company’s first deployments of the PortableCloud product family have reached over 2,000 students in 11 schools in Zimbabwe. Going forward, to fully deploy our solution as the rapid-response education platform for emergency we'll need to significantly expand our collaboration efforts: localized EDU content aligned with appropriate languages, curriculum requirements for primary and secondary school levels, and most importantly vendors of student devices (tablets, notebook PCs, Chromebooks etc) to be able to drop-ship the classroom solution.

Tell us more about you.

Nucleos Inc. (Delaware) is a for-profit, social impact company dedicated to improving the student learning experience with inclusive and equitable quality education for all. Noah Freedman: Princeton University grad and an experienced program developer with 10 years of experience working in micro-server technology and software. Camila Vega: UC-Merced grad, focused on cognitive science research/learning systems. Richard Curtin, sales & marketing executive, MBA, MS E.E, BS Computer Engineering.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

The concept of rapid-response / rapid-deployment is an excellent opportunity for us to extend our corporate mission to all segments of the world's population in search of knowledge, no matter their situation. By working with regional educational organizations, we can envision that we'd be able to cover any topic, any language, any age-group that needs to have access to a 21st century learning environment.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

We will use the IRC and other international aid organizations as a model for development of our rapid-response educational system. In order to be ready for emergency deployment, we plan to reach out to regional educational ministries to ensure that our pre-loaded content address the age groups and appropriate language & subject matter, starting with Turkey. Once this test phase for Turkey is completed, we would look to scale our rapid-response educational system to other emergency areas.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

We are in the process of expanding our regional distribution partners, both for local edu apps and service providers. Current partners: Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nepal ( & India. With our challenge submission, we have opened a dialog with the Turkish Educational Foundation to explore how we can have appropriate educational material pre-loaded with locally-aligned curriculum. This will be our pilot program to enable a rapid-deployment for other emergency regions.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for more than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

We have a strong foundation in our management team to build out our company; Noah is the technology lead, Camila is focused on educational content, student experiences and outcomes, and Richard is responsible for business development and channel development.

Innovation Maturity

  • Roll-out/Ready to Scale: I have completed a pilot and am ready or in the process of expanding.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered for-profit company (including social enterprises).

Organization Location

Nucleos is incorporated in Delaware, our office is located in Santa Cruz, California

Website (in development, launch in July) for the time being, details can be found at Also, see the recent coverage of our company launch at:

How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

Key clarification areas were identified by our Feedback Community, which we are now addressed in our plan: -How to build a sustainable and scale-able business; what is the longer-term plan for viability? -Who are our partners in development & deployment, what is our plan for securing commitments? -Source of the student device h/w and the funding sources -Robust OER library, in appropriate languages -Power source reliability/availability -Trained of instructors & support personnel

Who will implement this Idea?

In order to realize our vision, we will need to expand our staff at Nucleos and also receive commitments from partner organizations for both personnel and equipment. Our plan is to create a Emergency EDU Consortium E!Edu-C; Mission: to deliver a comprehensive eLearning educational experience for children in emergency situations. The E!Edu-C members will agree to committing personnel, services and equipment, (as appropriate). Nucleos staffing will include: (headcount) E!Edu-C Program Mgr (1), Edu Apps Mgr(1), Technical Services and Training Mgr (1) Operations Manager. All California-based.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Children in emergency shelter situations are especially impacted as they are relocated from their homes and villages. Emotional stress can be the result of the event, but also they might have missing or deceased family members. Coping levels for them will not be as strong as adults. Daily life pre-emergency family routines are a thing of the past and they will need to have time to settle in to their new life situation, with significant uncertainty as to when, if at all, they can go back to their villages. Edu needs will not be the absolute 1st priority for their parents or guardians. Creating a welcoming learning environment will be a major challenge for camp personnel. Other than gathering the children in a make-shift classroom, edu personnel must build trust & show a nurturing spirit.

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

Education-focused organizations have traditionally been non-profits, with significant contributions from family foundations and CSR-minded corporations. We intend to pursue similar paths in creating our E!EduC organization. Although initially focused on education in emergencies, the use of the PortableCloud local server can be extended to medical services tracking for the shelter. Nucleos is already in discussions with organizations in India & Africa for delivering an eLearning environment in rural communities with no internet access; now exploring for medical and even entertainment services.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

Our IMPACT: "By 2022 we aim to enable unrestricted access to all forms of eLearning material, by all of the world's population, leading to the end of gender and religious discrimination." We foresee two main hurdles in pursuit of our vision: repressive governments will create barriers for their citizens to see how other regions are making information freely available to their citizens, 2) religious organizations will need to treat all of their members with equality, independent of gender.

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

Educational outcomes are the most immediate to discern regarding the children's participation in the eLearning support that will be available to them while they are resident in the camp. By using the adaptive learning apps that are loaded on the PortableCloud-Cube, the most straightforward way is to track the results from these Apps, to see their rate of progress. More importantly, it will be critical to understand where the child is as they are trying to cope with their disrupted life style.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

We see our solution containing 4 major phases: 1- Establishment of the E!EduC organization 2- Bringing together all of the members; establish regional objectives & project timelines for the planned development & initial pilot deployment - w/ 1 of the MITK regions as a pilot site 3- Pilot deployment in the selected region, starting from training & equipment staging thru to selecting primary & secondary school children to "act" as displaced students 4- Improvements / lessons learned from pilot

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $100,000 and $500,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • No paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are seeking registration in order to implement in additional countries.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 1 and 2 years

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support
View more

Attachments (3)


The following is our User Experience information, detailing the crisis situation of Juliana - her family has be relocated to a shelter. The sequence of slides shows how what appears to start out as a hopeless situation for her dreams, especially with respect to her education, but ends up with a very successful outcome based on the use of our PortableCloud Learning Hub.

PortableCloud-Product-April2017 (1).pdf

The attached slide material describes how our PortableCloud can be rapidly deployed to create a 21st Century e-Learning environment - combining a small compact WiFi hot-spot/server, pre-loaded with educational content and applications (e.g. Khan Academy)


The PortableCloud-Cube datasheet gives an overview of the hardware portion of our learning platform.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lucy Holt

I believe that online education is our future and we should really implement it widely.

View all comments