Just returned from Uganda and had a great reception of the RACHEL-Plus server and content. I was working with an organization called Africa Renewal Ministries which is modeled after Compassion International for child sponsorship and education in Uganda. Their future vision is to Raise the level of education of children in Uganda and the RACHEL Content and RACHEL-Plus server fit well into that vision. I was able to share in several venues - one being a remote village with the school headmaster, teachers and a few of the older students. I also demonstrated at Africa Renewal University as well as the ARM Head office.
The village school headmaster was very excited about the breadth of content. The students there started right in looking at KA-Lite and exploring the mathematics section. One student came up with an advanced algebra lesson that he couldn’t figure out and I showed that the lessons were designed to be built off of others and that if he backed up and learned earlier lessons, he would eventually work his way up to solve that one. He was lost for the next few hours. The teachers also saw how that would work into their teaching plans. Also, once they learned that it was wifi, they started connecting on their phones and a tablet I’d taken for them. They just could’t believe that the little white box was doing all of this!
The University, which has somewhat limited resources, wanted to load this on an internal Linux/Apache server and make it available to students as well as in their library for research. They are also using Moodle for distance learning and were discussing ways to use the RACHEL content as part of their implementation.
When the ARM Executive Director saw it during the demo at the Headquarters, his immediate response was “THIS IS GOING TO CHANGE EVERYTHING”. He was obviously very excited. When I told him that one piece I am missing is the Ugandan curriculum and mandatory reading materials, he told me that his brother is working on a project to do this this and was looking for a method of distributing, particularly to remote schools without internet access. The other thing he was excited about was the possibility of using the RACHEL-Plus to distribute their internally developed leadership training curriculum.
With that excitement, we are now planning a couple of pilot projects to introduce into their schools and university. I left them the one RACHEL-Plus server I purchased for evaluation as well as a handful of USB drives with the 32GB image installed, given to a number of students and teachers to explore, along with current image files and additional content loaded onto a 2TB USB drive.
Hopefully there will be a resolution to the battery issue or a new hardware platform for the RACHEL-Plus server, but the demonstration and project strategy had a very positive reception to the people I’m working with in Uganda.
Overall - very positive and outstanding potential. Next step is to establish a couple of pilot projects!