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Solar Powered Digital Tablet Library (Updated for the Refinement Phase)

We’ll give teachers a portable and offline self-sustaining digital library, including tablets, a solar panel, and training for the teachers.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Inveneo has created a solar-powered multi-user digital library that is self-sustaining and easily transferrable for teachers. The Inveneo team proposes to offer refugee communities both the tablet-based digital library at no cost AND a teacher training course. The digital library will be accessible offline which is ideal for refugee camps with limited or no Internet connectivity. In addition, the training course will give teachers already working in the community the chance to learn how to use the tablets and how to best utilize them for large classrooms. Educational materials will be accessed by the tablets from a super low-power-consumption Raspberry Pi server. In addition, thousands of educational resources can be curated in a local language that is appropriate to a refugee camp. This digital library fits completely inside a briefcase and includes: 5 Nexus tablets A Solar PV charging system A Raspberry Pi with RACHEL educational content that individuals access offline Access to Wikipedia for Schools, Khan Academy and more Power cables & graphic setup instructions Inveneo’s idea offers a Silicon Valley-tested solution that will have an incredibly powerful impact.

WHO BENEFITS?

Inveneo has partners/contacts and extensive experience in Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and 26 other countries. In designing the Solar Powered Digital Library, Inveneo has drawn upon its experience working in an array of challenging settings, including refugee camps. Inveneo knows that the lack of access to power, Internet, and high-quality educational content are key issues in refugee camps and has designed its digital library to benefit refugees most in need.

PROTOTYPE

Inveneo’s engineers have conducted environmental and heat tests on an array of tablets in its San Francisco laboratory. Based on these test results and Inveneo’s experience working with tablets in Ethiopia, Philippines, Haiti, and Kenya, Inveneo has determined that the Google Nexus 7 tablet is one of the most durable and ruggedized tablets available. Moreover, from January to May 2015, Inveneo researchers conducted tests on various micro-servers and found that the Rachel Pi micro-server can support the greatest number of users. The Pelican case used to store and protect the digital library is extremely durable and widely used to transport equipment in the developing world. Inveneo has selected one of the most durable solar battery systems to support the digital library, although we would like to further test the system in a refugee camp. After distributing the tablet in a classroom and conducting a brief training for teachers on how to properly use the library, the three main things we would do are (1) observe challenges teachers or students experience in setting up, using, and charging the tablets, (2) monitor the duration of the battery life and how long it takes to charge the tablets in the field, and (3) obtain feedback from teachers and users on the content of the library and its impact on refugee children’s learning.

FEEDBACK

The design incorporates feedback from beneficiaries of past Inveneo projects who live in areas where Internet and power are not reliable (or non-existent). (For example, in Haiti, teachers participating in Inveneo’s Teacher Tablet Training project note that tablets transform learning, although a lack of reliable electricity and Internet are the main challenges to using them.) Inveneo has received significant positive feedback on the idea from NGOs, aid workers, and ICT4D community members. We are starting to reach out to various agencies implementing projects in refugee camps in an effort to prototype the idea.

HOW IS THIS IDEA DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOUR ORGANIZATION (OR OTHER ORGANIZATIONS) IS ALREADY DOING?

This idea is different because it is designed to work completely off the grid, 24-hours a day. With our network of local partners, it combines power and content into a comprehensive portable solution. It includes equipment proven to last in austere environments and existing, industry-accepted educational content. This library provides users with an Internet-like experience, increasing students’ digital literacy. It is not tied to or reliant on any specific device; up to 20 additional students or teachers can access library content with a basic Android phone or other device. The library is not inherently limited “walled off” but can easily support additional local content and applications.

HOW WOULD YOU USE AMPLIFY FUNDING AND DESIGN SUPPORT?

The Inveneo team would initially use Amplify funding and design support to prototype the digital library in a refugee camp and work with local teachers to conduct the tablet training course. In the next phase, we would put in place tools to measure the impact of the educational content on learning and monitor usage of the library, and we may test any design enhancements with a larger group of teachers and more classrooms. We would continuously obtain feedback from teachers, students, and humanitarian agencies, which would help us refine the overall design. With this feedback, we’d certainly benefit from Amplify’s design support to help us enhance the user interface and overall functionality.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF THE CHALLENGE?

The digital library is portable and adaptable and can be deployed immediately in any refugee camp. The training component promotes the value of girls education, and the educational content can be altered for different educational levels. The library is specifically designed for resource scarce environments and is self-sustaining and cost-effective. The library can be utilized by both refugees and host communities, and can even be adapted into local languages. It helps expand digital literacy and educational opportunities for young refugee boys and girls, as well as teachers, and includes existing web-based content that is culturally sensitive.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS FROM THE AMPLIFY TEAM

Can you tell us a little more about how you are currently offering this product? We have been working in each of the areas of our digital library solution -- solar powered ICT, tablets, and content servers -- but not as an integrated solution. We would like to offer this solution as an integrated approach that will be affordable, easy to ship, and simple to set up and use. Inveneo and/or our certified partners in +20 developing countries can offer the digital library. Is there something new that you’d like to try as part of this challenge? We have been involved in setting up over 2,000 computer labs in Sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti, although these were focused primarily on teaching ICT. This new solution will focus on providing a self-powered digital library. So rather than implementing a broad ICT approach, we are focusing our efforts in this challenge on delivering digital content and books in a sustainable manner. You mentioned that you have tried this training program in Haiti, what did you learn about its implementation? The key learning in Haiti was how to train teachers on tablet usage, as a tablet is very different from a standard computer with a keyboard and Windows operating system. Tablets are more about using applications than typing on keyboards and file management. Are the teachers there still using your system? Yes, and we also have active tablet projects in Haiti, Kenya, and Micronesia and soon in Ethiopia. How are the tablets being used? The tablets are being used as teaching aids in classrooms for teachers. The teachers have integrated the tablets into their course work, using the tablets and a projector to show books and videos to the whole classroom. How do you anticipate adapting this idea to the realities of the refugee context? The goal is to provide a digital library to refugee schools. The design is highly adaptable (i.e. it is not intended to only work in a certain camp or region), and we are looking forward to prototyping it to adapt it even further to the realities of the refugee context. While the content is offline on a small micro-server, it is built using Internet web-based standards. By offering the content in a web-based manner, the digital library also trains the students with an Internet-style interface. Once refugees do have Internet access in their future, they will have already built the skills needed to access and use the Internet. Please find our User Experience Map attached as a PDF.

SKILL SHARE (optional)

Inveneo has conducted a “Transforming Teaching Through Tablets” training course in rural Haiti. Led by Inveneo’s Haitian Project Manager Michelet Guerrier, the course included a professional development curriculum for teachers and technical training on the tablets. The first project was considered a huge success in rural Haiti, and Inveneo is now finalizing a second phase to impact even more Haitian teachers. Inveneo will need help on curating appropriate resources in local languages.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

Inveneo and our Certified ICT Partners have delivered solutions to over 1,800 communities in 31 countries around the world. There are now 128 Inveneo ICT partners, and together with our partners, we have brought access to life-changing ICTs to 3,200,000+ people in underserved areas.

IS THIS AN IDEA THAT YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO TAKE FORWARD?

  • Yes, I have implementation capacity and am interested in and able to make this idea real in my community.

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