ASU SolarSPELL Samoa Training with Peace Corps Volunteers and Local Teachers

The final highlight of the ASU SolarSPELL team’s time in Samoa was a two-day training with the Peace Corps volunteers and their local counterpart teachers. This was our team’s first opportunity to carry out a training with local teachers, and we are so grateful for the Samoa Peace Corps staff for suggesting it and then making it a reality!

The day started off with an introduction of the team from the Peace Corps country director, Sherry Russell.

It continued with a historical overview of the development of the SolarSPELL: it did not appear out of thin air! There was a lot of in-field “lessons learned” that went into developing it, and we’re never finished with development: the library is a living thing. The background also lets participants know where they fit in to the overall picture of the SolarSPELL, and that they are now part of the SolarSPELL family.

The team next distributed the SolarSPELL libraries, explained how the technology works, got everyone connected, and then allowed time for the participants to begin surfing and exploring the content.

The ASU students on the team subsequently gave a “highlights tour” of the SolarSPELL’s content, with each taking one of the website’s main categories to elaborate upon.

The following day was kicked off with a scavenger hunt. There were prizes for the winners, so the event turned quite competitive! Surprisingly, the smallest team won the competition.

Next, there were a few frank discussions of the challenges that the participants would likely face once they returned to their home schools and villages. The SolarSPELL is a disruptive technology, and introducing new technologies is always challenging. We worked through six “use case” scenarios, all from real-world challenges that previous Peace Corps volunteers had faced, in the field.

We took more time for questions and answers, and the participants (as always) had useful, valuable questions, insight, and advice for us. We will take this advice to heart and use it to improve the future versions of the library!

Posted in Arizona State University, Samoa, Solar Computer Lab in a Box, Solar Digital Library, SolarSPELL, Teacher Technology Training, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ASU SolarSPELL Samoa Peace Corps Volunteer Site Visits Part 2: Upolu Island

The ASU SolarSPELL Team’s second day of visiting Peace Corps volunteers’ sites took place on Upolu Island. We first visited Cynthia’s school, and got a tour of the school’s library.

Once again, the ASU students got to spend some quality time with the primary-level students. We even got to demonstrate the SolarSPELL to these students, including a Virtual Reality field trip.

As a post-script highlight, Cynthia let us know that our visit has re-inspired interst in the SolarSPELL at her school, and sent us pictures of her students using the digital library in the following days.

Our next stop was to see Zack. We had let him know we were on the way, so he had asked another teacher to take over for him once we arrived. Thus, we were delighted to be able to watch Zack’s host mother leading a class on environmental issues.

When she excused the class to start working in groups, the ASU students again had the opportunity to interact with the students, helping them brainstorm about how and why erosion takes place. We got a tour of Zack’s house, and spoke further with him about using the SolarSPELL at his school.

Finally, our marathon-of-a-day ended with Craig, and he gave us a quick tour of his school and library.

After this (and a quick dip in the Piula Cave pool), we returned to Craig’s house where he kindly allowed us to interview him. In fact, we interviewed all of the volunteers we went to visit, and our videographers made a fantastic couple of videos from this footage. Those will be highlighted in separate posts.




Posted in Arizona State University, Pacific Islands, Peace Corps, Samoa, Solar Digital Library, SolarSPELL | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

ASU SolarSPELL Samoa Peace Corps Volunteer Site Visits Part I: Savai’i Island

In May 2017, the ASU SolarSPELL team traveled to Samoa to carry out a training on the SolarSPELL digital libraries with both Peace Corps volunteers and their local counterpart teachers. Before this training took place, however, the team had the opportunity to visit some volunteers who had received SolarSPELL libraries (and training) one year prior, in their local schools and communities. We had the chance to catch up with these volunteers, receive feedback on some of the challenges and victories they’ve had vis-à-vis using the SolarSPELL in their schools and communities, and got a much better idea of what their lives are like as Peace Corps volunteers.


On May 27, the team had the opportunity to travel to Savai’i Island and visit two Peace Corps volunteers at their schools. The day began with a ferry ride across the ocean, from Upolu Island to Savai’i Island, which was breathtakingly beautiful.

Once arriving at Savai’i, we headed to Kiana’s school, where students were still in class. Kiana showed us her library, and we talked further about the SolarSPELL, while also providing her with an updated SD card with all of the new content we’ve been collecting over the past year.

The team was so fortunate to be able to interact with the students at this school, once class let out. A number of the SolarSPELL university students got to read to the primary schoolchildren, as well as play some games, including playing hide-and-seek, and dancing.

Other heretofore-unknown talents were demonstrated, as well!

Next, after a quick barbeque lunch along the side of the road, the team visited Patrick’s school, where we learned about how he is in the early stages of incorporating use of the SolarSPELL into recently launched computer courses. We also updated the content on Patrick’s SolarSPELL.

The team had many other amazing experiences on beautiful Savai’i Island, and some of the more breathtaking photos are below.

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