Students worldwide have been affected by school closures and relying on remote learning to continue their education due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, for those with no internet access, access to education can be out of reach. This is true for two-thirds of the world’s school-age children – or 1.3 billion children aged 3-17 – are currently living without internet connection in their homes, and nearly 70 percent of young adults – 759 million people aged 15-24 – reside in unconnected homes.
That is why we created an offline digital library using a microcomputer aimed at simplifying access to information and providing opportunities to all students to learn and gain valuable skills needed to thrive now and in the future. Working with local partners, Teach by Tech curates and provides access to the appropriate and applicable content for the community served through the library. For example, Kenya we have designed a library inclusive of books, teaching resources, audio files, how-to hobbies and podcasts to enagage and educate students in the Dadaab Refugee camp.
For this project we used a non-credentialing route meant to provide access to information to people especially, those with very limited digital literacy skills. Content can be translated into multiple languages to overcome language barriers. The offline digital library can hold 2 terabytes of information in text, audio and video format. The offline digital library is given to a partner organization in the community. Community members then have access to all content via the internal wi-fi produced by the offline library allowing people to connect via smartphone or tablet/laptop and download content to their device. Users connect to the offline digital library via a QR code, which eliminates the need for more advanced digital literacy skills.
The digital library can be powered using conventional electricity or solar power. Additionally, it can be connected to an offline Wi-Fi hotspot, USB or microSD card. Once connected users can access, download and transfer content without cellular data or Internet. A bonus outcome is that use of this device does increase familiarity with basic digital literacy skills.Lack of connectivity doesn’t just limit children and young people’s ability to connect online, it also prevents them from competing in the modern economy, blocking them from accessing information and isolating them from the world.
The device can also be used as means to make higher education and workforce training more accessible to adults who lack connectivity. For these organizations we offer a credentialing route. Faculty and instructors create industry or academic specific curriculum inclusive of pdf, audio and video files for students to access. Community members then have access to all content via the internal wi-fi produced by the offline library allowing people to connect via smartphone or tablet/laptop and download content to their device. With this option participants will have access to secure channels via usernames and passwords to complete and upload assignments and projects. Faculty and instructors can travel to location on a timeline of their choosing to recover uploaded data. We suggest that faculty and staff offer remote office hours via SMS or phone calls to aid student engagement and comprehension. We strongly recommend that participants are required to take exams at proctored locations to maintain the integrity of the course. This could mean use in conjunction with the mobile computer lab.