At the end of 2015 I met up with Lesley Price, just a catch up to chat about retirement (unfortunately not mine), keeping busy, moving house, and The Really Useful #EdTechBook. Lesley also had something else to show me.
Whilst waiting for food to arrive Lesley plopped (only word for it) a blue lunchbox on the table and said … “try this out”. Um, OK?
Connecting to the Capsule Wi-Fi, then typing an IP address to my phone’s browser, I was suddenly connected to a learning management system complete with a choice of courses / content, interactions, videos, etc. This box had it all and, if we’d told people on tables around us, we could have all accessed and learned something new together. Right there and then!
OK, it’s not new, per se, learning ‘online’. What is new is this approach. Inside the box are a Wi-Fi router, battery, a Raspberry Pi, and a kick-ass piece of software developed by the wonderful bods at Appitierre.
Those that can connect to the Internet are now able to access a wealth of learning opportunities literally at the touch of a button or a screen … but what about communities in remote locations where there is no mains electricity, never mind Internet access? Is the growth of the Internet, which is enabling learning for those that are connected, actually widening the educational divide with those that are not? The McKinsey report: Offline and Falling Behind, Barriers to Internet Adoption quite clearly identifies some of the key problems.
What is Learn Appeal? This charity “offers a chance for all those who work in e-learning to combine our resources and give something back. It’s our opportunity to harvest all those creative juices to deliver a learning revolution.” Bringing together the very best people involved in learning and learning development Learn Appeal works with projects around the world to connect individuals and communities, who already have the devices to learn on/with, but not the data connectivity. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t providing the Internet where there is none; it’s providing a localisedWi-Fi network (from this little box, yes) with interactive learning management system.
Learning Capsule. Rural communities, who don’t have or can’t afford reliable Internet, could run this themselves. With pre-loaded learning materials or ‘courses’ they could learn together about solar power, clean water, farming and cultivation, soil management, etc. In towns or cities a safe and closed network for children to learn online (safe from the distractions and dangers of online predators). it only needs one person to have an Internet connection at least every now and again to connect the Capsule online and download new / updated materials or courses to keep it fresh, and the battery can be charged so easily from a solar power pack or other such renewable source (mains power if you have it).
Possibilities. The possibilities are endless for the Capsule – anywhere you want safe or reliable access to learning resources, whether full-on Internet is available or not, is possible. Just because you or your intended learners can access the wider, fuller Internet isn’t what’s important; the Capsule could be deployed for users where you don’t want them to have this (at-risk children, prisons, etc.).
Partners. Learn Appeal is already working with the likes of Barnardo’s in the UK, Complitkenya in Kenya, and is tackling illiteracy in South Africa with M-Ubuntu, among many more projects in development.
I am happy and proud to say that the board at Learn Appeal invited me to join as a Trustee to the charity, and I am looking forward to working with them on projects and content.
Watch the Learn Appeal promotional video below, shown at the 2015 eLearning Awards and 2016 Learning Technologies event. We are looking for a whole range or donations, not only financial, but donations such as content, time, resources, networks, etc. Please check out the Learn Appeal website for more details.
Here are just a few examples of the excitement surrounding the Capsule:
Still buzzing with excitement at the progress you've made in just 1 year. Amazing!! Heroic!! https://t.co/NbQRTPFc7J
— stephen heppell (@stephenheppell) January 21, 2016
Why is the work of @LearnAppeal important? – E-learning for Africa held back by power shortagehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35177144
— Asi DeGani (@Asi_DeGani) January 14, 2016
— Debra Beck, EdD (@npmaven) December 17, 2015
— Tanya Randall (@TanyaR2020) November 11, 2015