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Libraries Without Borders
Show my name on the attendees list for events I am attending:
"Let's invent the library of the 21st century!"
Created in 2007, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières / Libraries Without Borders (LWB) is one of the leading international organizations working in culture-and knowledge-based development around the world. In both development and humanitarian contexts, LWB’s aim is to provide access to information and culture for all by providing support to hundreds of libraries in more 20 other countries worldwide. Since 2012, LWB has been developing several digital content projects in both educational sectors (MOOC, collaborative learning, etc.) and professional fields (specialized digital libraries, etc).
We are currently developing a project at Libraries Without Borders called "KoomBook". This device is an ultra-portable (roughly the size of a book) autonomous (battery operated) device that is pre-loaded with educational content. The KoomBook provides access to offline versions of Wikipedia, KhanAcademy and any other educational tools the users would like uploaded. Up to 20 users can simultaneously connect to the KoomBook's hotspot (wifi) and using any computer, tablet, smartphone access any of the content loaded in the KoomBook. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, the users can create and save content onto the KoomBook which will later be uploaded to the internet when the KoomBook is connected. This allows a greater number of individuals to be able to create or modify content (example: create or modify a wikipedia article) without being directly connected to the internet.
As you suggest, by creating partnerships with mobile companies, we would potentially be able to distribute recycled mobiles wherever we setup the KoomBook so that even those who do not have electronic devices can still have access to the resources.
We are currently in the design-thinking phase of this project. At LWB, we have envisaged using KoomBooks in areas such as Ideas Box, libraries, medical facilities, community centers, and other places where there is not always an internet connection.
Please write back if you would like to have more information on the KoomBook or would like to discuss this idea further.
Thank you for the links and the words of encouragement.
At LWB we have been discussing how we may possibly "link" all of the Ideas Boxes currently deployed and create an online network on which all users of the Ideas Box can upload and share their content. This online network of Ideas Box users could really help to integrate these somewhat disconnected communities into the global community and encourage them to continue expanding their online network outside of the Ideas Box. The LumenEd project seems like a great idea for this. While we have most of the infrastructure required within the Ideas Boxes themselves, their platform could be very helpful.
In order to continue development of the Ideas Box ideas and encourage community participation, we have been holding workshops around the world. These "Out of the Box" workshops are helping to build a community outside of the daily users of the box in order to reflect on the Ideas Box prototypes. As you were mentioning add-ins, we recently held an Out of the Box workshop at the SONAR music festival in Spain to brainstorm on a Music Box add-in that would provide instruments along with music lessons. We have also been discussing the idea of developing a theatre add-in module.
By coming and engaging with the Ideas Box and the teams of locals who animate this mobile media-kit, children have mostly been learning by accessing resources (videos, books, interactive games, board games, etc), attending child oriented activities and attending during times reserved for teachers with their classes. Essentially they have been learning by taking advantage of the diversity of tools that the Ideas Box provides. In order to assess the social impacts of the Ideas Box prototype, we worked with the UNHCR on identifying an experimentation location where needs were tremendous and there was a diversity of types of communities (recent refugees, long term camps, out of camp possible). Burundi presented itself as the ideal location for its diversity of communities.
As for how the Ideas Box differs from other efforts that use tablets and e-readers to promote education. The Ideas Box has created a safe multi-generational space in the context of refugee camps. The space within which the Ideas Box occupies becomes a space where mothers can be confident that there children won't be in danger after school or where women can safely gather for workshops on women's health. Generally speaking the Ideas Box provides more than just digital technology it also creates a safe, welcoming formal as well as informal educational environment where individuals can use digital tools but also have access to low tech tools such as books, coloring materials, board games (connect 4 is very popular!, etc). This diversity of tools and the training provided by the individuals who animate activities and look after the Ideas Box on a daily basis provided much more than simply access to tablets and e-readers.