The IPRO 335 team from IIT, partnering with Green Wifi and Inveneo, have worked together to make this connection a reality. After months of planning, preparation, fundraising, and prototype design, the team is on-site from December 11-18, carrying out our work!
Working with local Haitians who are trained in Internet connectivity by Inveneo (in a program called BATI), an Internet connection has been set up at the school, and this blog is being posted LIVE, IN REAL TIME!!!! We are extremely excited to be able to communicate over the Internet, and I’m taking this opportunity to share the news about it with this post.
The IPRO team arrived on Sunday, December 11, and made the 2.5 hour car trip to Lascahobas, with all of our luggage and hardware stacked to the ceiling, in a very, very crowded van!
Since settling in on Sunday, we have worked on various tasks on-site, including:
Building the team’s new and improved charging station as an example that the community can replicate and build on their own in the future, using all local materials. The station’s cost comes in at less than $1 per laptop.
Troubleshooting the fact that the solar powering system went down and hasn’t worked for a week prior to our arrival. (The main fuse had blown and so we re-wired around this fuse—and the system was up and running again right away.)
We lined up the services of a translator/interpreter for our on-site meetings (his name is Jefferson).
We have started carrying out the survey amongst the community members (about technology and electricity use) employing mostly the same team that carried out the survey on our last visit, in August.
We met with the teachers on Tuesday, to explain the project to them (we didn’t have the chance to do that in August, since normal classes were not in session), and to ask them about their use of technology in the classroom. They were unanimous and vocal in their desire to each have (grown-up) laptops of their own, as well as a computer lab for the school. They also wanted the upper classes (7th-9th grade) to have access to technology, which isn’t currently the case.
We met with parents of students at the EFACAP school on Wednesday (today), and we learned how excited they are about their children having laptops; how the laptops have made even shy children come out of their shells and show others how they know how to use this technology and to teach others; how much the educational experience has improved for the students—how excited they are to go to school now; and how expensive and difficult it is for them to find a way to charge the laptops when the students are not in school. We gave a tour of the solar installation to the parents before they left.
Things we still have left to do on this trip:
We will have a follow-up meeting with the teachers on Thursday, and will teach them how to connect to the Internet—only about 5 of them (out of 14) had ever used the Internet before, so there was a great deal of excitement among the teachers, to be able to know how to use the Internet!!!
The teachers are eager to learn more about solar system itself, not only so that they understand it, but so that they can teach their students about it too. We will also be giving them a tour and description of the solar system on Thursday.
We still have to figure out why the laptops make a squealing noise while over a certain amount charge at the same time.
In a repurposing of technology, we have created mobile telephone chargers out of the XO laptop hand cranks we received at the OLPC SF Summit in October. We need to figure out what to do with these newly created tools/who to give them to.
We need to create solar-powered wifi hotspots across the campus, to take advantage of the Internet connection that is coming to the school from Downtown Lascahobas.
We will also be making two site survey visits to other schools, with the goal installing a solar powering installation at one of these schools after our next IPRO semester.
It’s been great seeing old friends!
And not so great seeing others….
We will try to update with another post before we leave Haiti this weekend.