Offline Linux Educational Servers for Disconnected Communities
Many rural communities in the developing world lack reliable and affordable internet access, this significantly hampers their ability to educate their young people and access vital educational resources. World Possible created the RACHEL server to combat this issue. Through RACHEL we provide these open educational resources to disconnected communities, and offer them a platform to create their own locally relevant content that we can distribute to their local communities.
RACHEL stands for Remote Access Community Hotspot for Education and Learning, it is capable of creating its own local wifi network and turning a room of old computers into a virtual library. The RACHEL library contains content from leading open educational resource providers (Wikipedia, Khan Academy, CK-12, etc) that we have rebuilt, compressed, and indexed in offline form to be installed via a USB stick.
The English version of RACHEL has already reached thousands of students in 25 countries across the world. However we just recently released RACHEL Español, and have only a few test sites in Honduras and Guatemala. We would like to use this grant to rollout our new Spanish version of RACHEL and provide as many students with access as we possibly can.
In many ways, World Possible serves as a center point for many partners to reach each other. We partner with content providers that develop free and open educational resources to repackage their content off-line. Key partners include Wikipedia, the Khan Academy, CK-12, Hesperian health guides and much more. Our content package is installed by local installation partners around the world. They participate by installing RACHEL in local computer labs, libraries, or in mass on refurbished computers throughout countries or regions. We rely on cooperation and support by both of these parties to make RACHEL an effective tool for learning and development.
RACHEL has historically been shown to work in two phases. First, we anticipate slow uptake of the newly available educational resources and integration into educational communities. Many times, this provides youth and new users a sense of empowerment, the feeling that they can do or learn anything at the tip of their fingers. As information begins to become more integrated into communities, educators begin to see shortcomings in the resources we provide them through core RACHEL packages. Phase two begins when generally long-time users of RACHEL begin filling those voids by creating their own locally relevant content to add to RACHEL. This, for us, is the true success of a RACHEL deployment, when attitudes in a community have shifted all the way from “we have nothing to learn from” to “we can create the learning we need in our community.” As Benjamin Franklin once said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”