Akoyikoyi School in Chuuk, FSM receives RACHEL Server for offline educational content

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Last week, the PISCES (Pacific Islands Schools, Connectivity, Education, and Solar) Team visited the Akoyikoyi School, located in Penia Village, on Weno Island, in Chuuk State, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). This is a unique primary school, presently comprising grades 1-3, and operating like a charter school yet charging no fees, while focusing on community involvement to ensure long-term student success.

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We met with the Akoyikoyi Team of teacher-volunteers, principal, and director (Clark Graham). We spoke about the PISCES Team’s progress to-date and future work in developing an off-line repository for educational material to be made available to all of Chuuk’s schools.

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Among other things, we demonstrated the RACHEL educational content server to the Akoyikoyi Team. The RACHEL server is an ultra-compact, ultra-low power computer (on a Raspberry Pi) preloaded with free educational content (RACHEL, from World Possible). There seemed to be a great fit for a RACHEL server at the Akyoikoyi School, as they have both electricity and technological devices (tablets) for the students to use, but no Internet connectivity (which can otherwise severely limit the usefulness of devices such as tablets). RACHEL provides an offline repository of educational content, but does still require electricity and devices to be useful.

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A few days after our initial visit, we brought a RACHEL to the Akoyikoyi School for them to keep, explore the content and how to use it, and discover what they’d like to add to the content. Pictured above is Hiro, from the iSolutions Micronesia and PISCES Team, handing the Rachel Pi over to Grace, one of Akoyikoyi’s teachers.

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This is only the first stage of what we believe will become a fruitful partnership moving forward. Not only do we hope to be able to provide the Akoyikoyi School with a greater number of more powerful devices, so that all of their students can make use of this digital technology and content, but we also look forward to their input to our team on digital content that will be valuable and primary-level appropriate, which we can add to the off-line repository for all schools in Chuuk to be able to access in the future.

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We understand that an ethnomusicologist is coming to visit the Akoyikoyi School in the near future, and it would be fantastic to be able to add some Chuukese music to the digital library!

Posted in Chuuk, Micronesia, Pacific Islands, RACHEL | 3 Comments

ICT4D Hardware Challenges White Paper published

Reposted from ICTWorks by Inveneo

What Are the Industry’s Top ICT Hardware Challenges?

Published on: Aug 11 2014 by Danielle Schulkin

 

You are in a minority. Yes, you.

I single you out because, as you read this article online (perhaps on a phone or a tablet or even a MacBook Pro), you are part of the 40% of the world’s total population that has access to the Internet.

Unfortunately most Internet communication technologies are made for people who are already plugged in with their Android, Mac, and Tablet. This hardware is designed for communities with advanced electrical and connectivity infrastructures and aimed at end-users who are well versed on Internet communication technology. But when the same hardware is implemented in developing world locations where such infrastructure is limited, it often fails.

So what accounts for this recurring failure?

In the following white paper, “Emerging Markets: Top ICT Hardware Challenges”, Dr. Laura Hosman presents the top five ICT hardware challenges in emerging markets. These rankings are based on a series of technology salons, in-depth interviews, and macro-level online surveys of experts, practitioners, academics, and end-users of ICT4D. The paper exposes the challenges and needs of developing communities for their ICT hardware. By addressing these needs with new designs, ICT designers and manufacturers will be better able to reach the 60% of the world’s population who remain unconnected.

A short overview of the top five challenges from the paper:

  1. Electricity/Power/Energy: Extremely low power and long battery life; robust handling of electrical spikes, swings, dips, blackouts, and brownouts; and—ideally—at 12-volts DC to be solar-power ready
  2. Cost: Balance must be found between the lowest cost and solid, reliable, functional technology
  3. Environment-Related Issues: Reliability/ruggedness/durability are all of paramount importance (resistance to water, humidity, dust, dirt, and extreme heat); no moving parts recommended; screens are hard to repair and difficult to read in direct sunlight
  4. Connectivity: Essential to the usefulness of just about any device in any location; is what creates value for entire ICT4D ecosystem: the more connected, the more valuable the network. Main method advocated was WiFi
  5. Maintenance & Support: The best technology needs no support. Transportation for repair, maintenance, and support is expensive. Sourcing spare parts is a challenge. Technology that cannot be locally maintained, supported, and repaired is not sustainable.

The focus on those who are already connected ignores scores of people who are just beginning to go online. By optimizing hardware for developing world locations, ICT designers can expand their reach to new markets while at the same time increase quality of life for millions of people around the world.

The paper was published by Inveneo, written by Dr. Laura Hosman, and directed by Inveneo director Bruce Baikie. The following infographic was created by Eric Zan. Check out his website at http://www.ericzan.info

Hardware Challenges Infograph

 

 

Posted in Solar Power, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tablets at Romanum Elementary School in Chuuk, FSM

The following is a guest post, written by Melody Alvarez, who is volunteering with the Peace Corps and is stationed in Chuuk, in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). We’ve been working with Melody and other Peace Corps volunteers working in schools across Chuuk State, to introduce tablet-based technology into the classrooms. Melody’s school, Romanum Elementary, on Romanum Island in the Chuuk Lagoon, has no electricity or Internet connectivity at present. Thus, we sent a Ready-Set Solar Kit to accompany the tablets and enable them to be charged.

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In addition, our team had worked on a 10-lesson “Technology Training” curriculum to assist with instruction for those who have never used such technology before. The tablets also came pre-loaded with approximately 10 educational apps, so that the they could be used for school-related purposes despite the lack of connectivity at the school(s).

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Below, Melody relays her initial experiences introducing this technology to Romanum’s 8th graders, none of whom had ever used a tablet prior to this experience.

Hi Laura,

I wanted to give you some feedback on how my 8th graders have been
doing. We use the tablets in Special Class, which is basically an elective class; it is not a mandatory class, however, all the 8th grade students attend. The first part of this class we spend about an hour/hour and a half on English and Math test prep. The second part of class is when we use the tablets.

Day 1
I wrote “What is technology?” on the board.

No answers from the class. I wrote the definition (which I realize is not technically accurate but I had to make it at a level my students would understand) “something that needs a battery or generator to work.” Then I gave them some examples: Computers, cell phones, MP3 players and DVD players.

Then I wrote “What technology is on Romanum?” I divided all the students in to groups and they worked together to come up with a list. After 10 minutes the groups took turns making a list on the board.

Then I wrote: “What is a tablet?”

Students answer: “A writing notebook”  “the yellow paper”

(we have writing tablets with yellow lined paper at our school)

I explained that I was talking about a type of computer, not the writing paper.

Next I wrote: “What can you use a tablet for?”

Student answers: playing games, Math-Calculator, listening to music, watching movies, writing (I explained that on a computer we call it typing) and camera.

Then I asked my class “Why did I teach you about technology and tablets?”

Student answers: To understand, to be smart, because you want us to know what technology is.

I ended class by telling the students to be on time to school on Monday or I would lock them outside. I did not tell them that I had tablets for them to use because it was a surprise. The reason for locking the classroom door is because I knew that the tablets would be a distraction to the other students.

Day 2
Monday was a rainy day so I gave them 15 extra minutes to arrive and then I locked the door. There were 9 students inside and I gave them the tablets and let the students figure out how to turn them on and it was only a matter of minutes. Then they had to figure out how to unlock the screen and that held them up too, but not for long.

After a few days, I made a schedule of pairs to rotate whose turn it would be to use the tablets, since I have 17 students and only 3 tablets. I plan on changing their partners after about a month so that they can change up who they play with.

So far each student has had 3 turns with the tablet. (We only have special class 3 days a week.) Mostly they like the camera, but they are also playing the games and they are learning how to edit their pictures.

Here are some pictures of the students using the tablets, and some that they took of themselves.

 

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It looks like Melody’s students have already mastered the art of taking selfies! I look forward to receiving much more information from Melody when I return to Chuuk in August, 2014! Stay tuned…

Posted in Chuuk, Micronesia, Pacific Islands, Solar Power, Uncategorized | Leave a comment