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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.

30 comments

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Photo of An Old Friend
Team

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Photo of Bruktawit Tigabu
Team

I love the work you’ve done. I think there might be some good synergy between our two proposals. Please take a look at our proposal to use tablets to educate children between 5 and 8 in Ethiopia https://openideo.com/challenge/refugee-education/ideas/tsehai-loves-learning. We would love to leverage the research and experience you have in selection of technology, setup and maintenance, and believe we can provide rich educational content for another age target and extend the benefit of the tablets you intend to set up. This will be a continued partnership as we are working together on the READ TA project in Ethiopia.

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Bruktawit, thanks for your interest in our project! We took a look at your idea and it looks very exciting. There are certainly good synergies between both of our ideas, and the fact that you focus on content is ideal. Your team does great work within Ethiopia READ TA, and we’d like to keep in touch with you as we progress in this challenge together. Best of luck to you!

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of Flora Lujana
Team

What a genius idea!

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Thank you for the support, Flora! We hope to make it a reality!

Photo of jeff wishnie
Team

Is it possible to install the RACHEL library _directly_ on the tablets so that the RaspberryPi and WiFi configuration are not necessary? We are looking at using tablets for very mobile educational environments—e.g. carrying tablets into refugees homes—and anything that simplifies or eliminates the need for set up is important.

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Jeff,

Unfortunately not. Educational content is curated and then accessed by the tablets from a super low-power-consumption Raspberry Pi server. The educational content would not be able to be on the tablets alone, but our digital library method keeps educational content updates easy (updating one Raspberry Pi rather than multiple tablets). Hope this helps and thanks for your question!

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Congratulations on making it to the Refugee Education Challenge Refinement List, Inveneo team! We’re interested in the ways that technology can improve education and would love to learn more about your idea. Can you tell us a little more about how you are currently offering this product? Is there something new that you’d like to try as part of this challenge? You mentioned that you have tried this training program in Haiti, what did you learn about its implementation? Are the teachers there still using your system? How are the tablets being used? How are do you anticipate adapting this idea to the realities of the refugee context?

We’d love to see a User Experience Map http://ideo.pn/UX_Map and to read more about how you have tested this idea and what you have learned. Great to have you in the Challenge!

Photo of Inveneo null
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.

Finally, please find our User Experience Map attached to our profile as a PDF. Thanks for your great questions!

Photo of AMPLIFY Team
Team

Thank you for your comprehensive answers! We love the idea of an integrated approach. As I read your answers I couldn't help but think about how this might be used in the types of classrooms we saw in our pre-research - ones that had 1 teacher and up to 250 students. That will be a big design challenge!

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Hi Inveneo,

I'd love to connect with you on this project. We could certainly use solar powered tablets for our Little Ripples preschool program for Darfur refugees in eastern Chad for a number of things: training, record keeping, storytelling, and more.

We also have a Human Rights Library in the camps that has previously used Kindles, and we created a closed social media platform that allowed schools from the US to connect with schools in the camps via satellite (allowing them to work offline on the platform to write and read messages and then when connected to satellite it would automatically send and receive). I think what you are working on is very relevant to our programs. And we certainly could help you test your prototype in a very desolate and unconnected area of the world.

Let's connect!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Great to see that you're connecting with the Inveno team Katie-Jay. Here's a helpful tip: When posting a response, hit the Reply button directly below the comment that you're addressing. This way, Inveno will get a notification when you post a reply to their comment. You may want to repost your reply to Inveno by hitting the blue Reply button located on the lower left-hand corner of their comment.

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Katie-Jay!

Yes, we’d be happy to connect with you on this project. We’d love to know more about the Human Rights Library you mentioned. Is it available offline? The social media platform also sounds exciting. Could you please send more information to our Media Manager Jana Melpolder (jana@inveneo.org) who would love to be in touch and connect our great ideas together. So glad you commented on our post and introduced yourself!

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of Katie-Jay Scott Stauring
Team

Great. I will email Jana!

Photo of Carson Potter
Team

Awesome idea! The offline component and liberal access to information seems like a tool of great potential.

Some questions:
1) You mention having launched the project in Haiti where it was considered a success. Have you guys had the opportunity to measure the impact of the work, either short-term or longitudinally? I'm very curious to understand the factors leading to that consideration and the measurable learning benefit.
2) How do you guys go about designing the curricula and content for each refugee setting? I have similar questions surrounding the interface design.

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Carson!

Yes, we’re happy to answer your questions and thanks for the support!
1) The impact of our use of tablets in Haiti has been part of the effort of our educational specialist in Haiti, who is working directly with the schools. You can find a recent report and article on the progess on our Inveneo website at these two links:
http://www.inveneo.org/2015/01/update-haitis-transforming-teaching-through-tablets-project/

http://www.inveneo.org/2014/08/new-report-transforming-teaching-through-tablets/

2) The goal of our solar powered digital library solution is to provide digital content and a web-based interface in a self-powered and sustainable manner in each refugee setting. The digital library is a resource and library, not curricula for the classroom.

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of Les LaMotte
Team

Inveneo, your plan is similar to mine. How do you come up with the curriculum. Ours is based on the best college courses available and assembled on to one chip that keeps track of what the students are studying and let's them proceed as they pass each subject. I would like to be a part of your group.

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Les!

Thanks for commenting! We are using the content from World Possible’s RACHEL Pi solution, which is focused at grade school level students. Our approach is that this is a digital library, not a classroom educational system. Our digital library would be just like a regular library, offering books and content to students in refugee camps.

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on making it to the Refinement Phase! We would love it if you can take some time to answer the new Refinement questions that we've added to your original idea submission form. To answer the new questions, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post. Scroll down to the entry fields of the new Refinement questions. Hit Save when you are done editing.

Also, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 5/11" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Thank you for the help and useful tip, OpenIDEO! We have updated our profile by adding to our previous answers and also answering the new questions. We’ve also updated our title (and added an extension) to make it easy for the reader. We’re glad to be a part of this exciting challenge!

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Thanks for the idea contribution Inveneo team! It'd be helpful if you can you help clarify what part of this idea is new and untested, and which aspect of this idea is an existing initiative from your organization? i.e. how will you plan to make this technology accessible to a specific refugee community? In this challenge, we're keen on uncovering new innovations around refugee education. We welcome ideas in all stages of development. This will help us better understand how we can support your current efforts!

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Shane!

Thanks for the great questions. This initiative is new but it is composed of technologies that have been tested at different levels of development. The tablets have been deployed and maintained in projects in Haiti. Their integration with the raspberry pi has been tested in our San Francisco laboratory that simulates rugged field conditions. The solar power equipment has been used successfully in rural East Africa and Inveneo is adapting the low-cost solution for tablets. We have spent extensive time vetting the offline content providers and resources for those that offer the best usability of high quality socially appropriate content. World Possible’s RACHEL content server serves the bulk of that solution and has been deployed in thousands of locations by other organizations.

Inveneo has more than a decade of experience working in partnership with local organizations to foster ownership and sustainability, and we plan to work in partnership with local organizations that are already working in a given refugee community to carry out this project, including focusing the content for the educational context of that area.

Innovation stems from the portability and smooth integration of technology tested for harsh environments, coupled with training and strong partnerships all built off the years of experience Inveneo has working with these technologies and communities in the field.

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of jeff wishnie
Team

Hi Inveneons, Mercy Corps concept dovetails nicely with yours. We are looking at developing curriculum that can be delivered by information educators to Syrian refugee populations via tablet.

Inveneo's idea could provide the devices, charging solution, content, and device-training, while MC's project provides a structured curriculum, the teachers/facilitators, and the outreach to refugee populations.

One question: how much, if any, of RACHEL is in Arabic??

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Jeff!

Yes, we’re happy to connect with you and the exciting things that Mercy Corps is doing. To answer your question, today Rachel Pi is available in English, French, Spanish, and Hindi. We have several proposals out for work in refugee camps in Jordan, where an Arabic version will need to be created.

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of Rika Viragh
Team

Hi there! Great to see you on the platform. Is the training course something new that you are wanting to try? Are you looking to build on an existing program? Is this idea currently operating in a certain location?

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Rika!

Thanks for your message and the excellent questions. Inveneo has experience developing and implementing teacher tablet training programs in Haiti, in addition to using tablets to increase access to education content and improve literacy in Ethiopia. We would like to build on these programs but would certainly tailor the curricula to a refugee setting. Our team would love to partner with organizations that have expertise in education in refugee settings.

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of Edmund Page
Team

Hi Inveneo,

I would love to know more about how to benefit from this innovation. Is it like Rumie Initiative where we purchase the packs and implement ourselves? I am from www.xavierproject.org and we work with refugees in Nairobi and Kampala. The solar aspect might not be so vital for us, but I'm very interested by the offline library.

Many thanks

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hi Edmund!

Thanks so much for your comments and questions! You can purchase the packs for your own use. It seems like our model is somewhat similar to the Rumie initiative, but this software and content has already been deployed to thousands of locations. Inveneo has found that lack of power and Internet are key constraints to education in far too many places in the world and we are trying to change that with the Solar Powered Digital Tablet Library. Your work looks fascinating and we hope to be able to partner one day!

All the best,
The Inveneo Team

Photo of Andy E. Williams
Team

Fascinating solution. My key question is that teacher training materials often go with specific textbooks that are distributed to students. Are the textbooks in this solution also ebooks? Are they also distributed on tablets? Does this solution require the deployment of tablets to both teachers AND students?

Photo of Inveneo null
Team

Hey Andy!

Thanks for your interest and excellent questions! All books are digital and stored on a raspberry pi computer. The tablets access the books and web based educational content on the raspberry pi computer via WiFi. The digital library is composed of a diverse array of content from different sources, which include e-books and teacher resources. Inveneo has used its expertise in deploying projects in underserved communities among challenging environments to evaluate the most robust, user friendly integration with high quality content.

This whole set-up provides a digital library that students can access, like an old school library, with the guidance and direction of a teacher. The teacher would definitely require access to one of the tablets to choose the appropriate content for their curriculum and train the students on how to navigate the content on their own. Teachers will also be able to use the tablet to add locally produced or additional Internet-sourced content to the offline repository. To accomplish this, training would build the teacher’s capacity through local partners via the established Inveneo Certified ICT Partner model.

The kit provides 5 tablets that can be used to browse the books and content. With the solar power, it can be used at any school no matter how rural. No Internet or power grid needed.

All the best,
The Inveneo Team