Technology at Maranyundo: Raspberry Pi and Rachel

Big changes are coming to Maranyundo!  This little device called the Raspberry Pi has been making waves all over the tech community for the last few years.  It is a credit card sized computer that only costs $35!  All you need is a monitor and keyboard and you are set to go. Maranyundo’s use won’t even require electricity or internet.  It was specifically designed by a nonprofit to be used in the education sector to teach students coding.

Soon enough techies in thedeveloping world started swooping in and making it work for their unique problems.  One such project is called RACHEL standing for Remote Areas Community Hotspots for Education and Learning.  This is a digital library sent through a network to any computer that tries to access the pi.  Here is an online version. It includes resources licensed under creative commons includingtextbooks developed by the state of CaliforniaKhan Academy videos and interactive exercises, much of Wikipedia, .books from Project Gutenburg and much more!

Maranyundo describes itself as a School of Excellence and part of this high standard is to use technology in teaching for the benefit of students.  This is not always so easy because of the unreliable internet and electricity.  But RACHEL-Pi requires no electricity, as it is battery powered (you can still use it on a battery powered laptop, which every teacher has) and supplies its own wireless network that computers connect to as if it were wifi. The Maranyundo Initiative Board visited the school last week and they brought the RACHEL-Pi donated by the Paraclete in Boston through Sister Ann who helped found the school.

Marcella presenting about the new technology

There was staff training a few days later.  Marcella and I expected only teachers to come, but Sister Juvenal was so supportive of the technology that she implored even the librarian and secretary to attend. It couldn’t have gone better.  The teachers all brought their computers to follow along with the demonstration.  They were very excited about the information they found and already planning how to use it.  They seemed most interested in the videos and exercises, but I think they will also find the general information bank helpful when the internet is not working. I also have to point out that even with almost 20 computers connected to the network, the Pi was still faster than the usual internet!  It was really amazing.

Assisting staff with specific problems

If any tech savvy people interested in Maranyundo have any suggestions on how to expand the available content on RACHEL or how to use the Raspberry pi or simply how to better incorporate technology at Maranyundo, I would love to speak with you!

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