Promoting uninterrupted access to digital resources
Pilot project using low-power Raspberry Pi devices
August 2016 | Lalitpur
At OLE Nepal, we are continuously working to incorporate innovative, low-power and low-cost technology solutions to promote easy and open access to quality learning materials to students and teachers. After weeks of meticulous planning and tests, we are happy to share that we have launched our very first deployment using low-power Raspberry-Pi devices! Raspberry Pi is a pocket-sized, single-board, fully-functional computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation. This small but powerful computer runs on 5-watt power, which is ideal for schools in Nepal considering the daily power cuts.
The pilot project was implemented at Gorakhnath Secondary School, Kirtipur. The school has 250 students and 20 teachers, and serves some of the most disadvantaged students in the area. The school has allocated a separate room where teachers and students can use digital resources through the Raspberry-Pi devices as part of the regular teaching-learning process. OLE Nepal’s team has set up the equipment along with sufficient power backup to ensure maximum utilization of the resources even during power outages.
The Raspberry-Pi devices in Gorakhnath School are loaded with the linux-based Ubuntu-Mate operating system that our team has further customized for educational purpose. The entire system is fast, reliable and robust, and comes loaded with common browsers, LibreOffice suite, and many educational games and activities including OLE Nepal’s grade and subject specific interactive learning activities, E-Paath.
We have also installed an offline server loaded with our expansive digital library, E-Pustakalaya. Students and teachers at the schools can now use the Raspberry-Pi devices (as well as any other computer, laptops, tablets, or mobile devices) to have free, fast and easy access to nearly 8,000 books, hundreds of audio-books, thousands of educational videos, many learning software packages, and reference materials such as Wikipedia, dictionaries, and maps -- all without going on the Internet.
OLE Nepal conducted a 5-day teacher training program for all teachers from the school, to provide them the technical and pedagogical skills to integrate digital activities in their lesson plans. The training also covered management and scheduling aspects of conducting technology-integrated classes.
After the training, the teachers were very excited to incorporate this novel approach to teaching-learning at the school. Most of all, both teachers and students are thrilled that they can enhance learning use computers on a regular basis without having to worry about load shedding schedule. The total power requirement for 18 Raspberry Pi computers with monitors, E-Pustakalaya server, and networking equipment comes to 600 Watts. The two 150AH batteries we plan to put in the school should provide over 5 hours of use time during power outages.
The Raspberry Pi computers, monitors, power backup and other needed peripherals were provided by New York-based non-profit, Kids of Kathmandu. The observations and lessons from this pilot program will be applied towards larger deployment of Raspberry-Pi devices together with E-Pustakalaya servers and power back-up in more schools across the country in 2017 onwards.
We invite the government and other organizations to collaborate with us to deploy these types of low-power smart solutions together with digital content and teacher training so that the resources can be utilized fully to achieve better learning outcomes at the schools.