The Challenge

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How might we increase the availability of affordable learning tools & services for students in the developing world? read the brief

Idea

Teach Net

An online community that promotes real-life connections between APS teachers, their community and the wider community. A service that provides tangible and targeted response to need.
Yes, yes, I know, computers, electricity, internet connections = problem, but just hear me out :-)
We can get incredible value from social networks and I would like to suggest that with a little thought we might be able to facilitate online social networks in developing countries. I think the key is to do it in a way that facilitates real-life connections in local communities to maximize local development.


The key idea behind this concept is the 'open my computer' feature. This is a call to action for all those in local communities who do have computers to open them up to registered APS teachers to allow them to connect. This essentially creates local hubs/access points. Computers could be made accessible by individuals or companies. We might even see opportunities whereby individual households could apply for a computer from a sponsorship scheme on the basis that they allow local APS teachers access at some point. Kudos for the sponsoring company, infrastructure for the local community. This ensures that those who do have electricity in the community make the most of that opportunity.


Part of the idea is that teachers can connect with each other within their local areas which would allow for sharing of resources and knowledge. Even if teachers only get access to a computer once a month or less there could be an option for leaving a telephone number or address which would open the door to more conventional communication.


'Teacher Requests' is a feature that would allow individual APS teachers to post requests for just about anything they need for their school. These requests could be answered in two ways. Firstly by charity. Anyone in the world could respond to this request and simply send the teacher the material (not sure if this would work but you get the idea, might need a central distribution agency or something similar). Secondly, distributors get access to a whole bunch of people who need stuff but may not know where to get it from. I liked the idea from Meg Dryer regarding Overstock.com for APS, that could fit quite nicely here.


'School link' is an idea for direct sponsorship of an APS teacher or their school by another school. This site would facilitate and manage the connection if needed and would benefit both parties through sharing knowledge and experience. This could be a national connection or international.


'Online resource' was stolen from Gabriel Harps concept 'Untitled' (see links) essentially a digital library for teaching material; thanks :-) This could also be somewhere where teachers from all over the world could contribute personally rather than as an institution (less barriers/commitment) and post lesson plans and other useful tips or even more generalized forums for discussions on broader topics.


'Tell me how to help' is one of the less developed areas t be honest but I needed 6 areas to make the image look nice :-) But, this could be an area that facilitates more charity based contributions to improving educational tools and services in the developing world and an area which is focused more on individual contributions or initiatives. Think about this: we are all contributing to openIDEO for free because it covers topics that we care about and that resonate with us (well that's why I do it), there must be a whole load of teachers out there who would be willing to contribute in a similar fashion to their topics.


The overall aim is to create a network of all those teachers who need improved tools and services. At this point we can provide more tangible and targeted response to that need.


Who would implement this?
  1. A big company
  2. A local entrepreneur or small organization
  3. A globally-based social entrepreneur
  4. NGOs and Foundations
  5. I would!
  6. I don’t really know
Cost
The key is to create access points within communities for the network. Shared computers hopefully mean that costs are significantly reduced. We may however need to see more active installation of access points such as: http://makerfaireafrica.com/2010/06/29/the-digital-drum-rugged-computer-kiosks-for-rural-uganda-and-beyond/ (thanks Meena Kadri for the indirect link) This would then make costs higher for this service. Then we need an internet connection. Again, if we can access existing computers in the local community that have a connection that would be great!
Distribution & Delivery
If schools have electricity then there may be opportunities for sponsorship for a computer and internet connection. If they have both of the above it's a simple matter of registration.
Adoption
Hmmm, not sure to be honest. The difficulty here is getting in touch with teachers in the first place and somehow advertising local access points so they can connect to the network (assuming access points can be made!) Once they have found an access point then whoever has provided the access point could help with the initial introduction to the service.
Local Need. Enterprising Schools has identified key areas of need for Affordable Private Schools. What local learning need(s) does this concept address?
  1. English language learning (speaking, reading, writing)
  2. Math learning
  3. Libraries
  4. Tech literacy
  5. Professional development
  6. Other

Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

Pablo F. Méndez

September 29, 2010, 18:02PM
Cool stuff!

Alex Ward

September 14, 2010, 07:05AM
Awesome! I really like the foursquare concept and it could be a good way of engaging people for this concept. This triggered a thought; we are constantly questioning the viability of computers due to the expensive nature, need for mains power and wired connectivity, is it a more realistic to start suggesting smart-phones as an alternative. In terms of infrastructure we could aim for sponsorship from NGOs and the Government for transmissions masts and then give teachers a smart-phone. I bet there's loads of iPhone 3Gs' sitting idle now :-) Just a thought but there is something there...

Meena Kadri

September 14, 2010, 06:47AM
Alex – what a great collaborator you are! – crediting everyone and building upon various input across other's concepts, inspirations and comments. I'm a huge fan of the Barefoot College: http://bit.ly/dxt4nf Am wondering if there is some way you could incentivise teachers to participate – along the lines of Foursquare badges, etc?

Alex Ward

September 14, 2010, 06:29AM
Not entirely related but something that I found really interesting whilst prepping this idea:

http://www.barefootcollege.org/sol_approach.asp
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