SolarSPELL is a Solar Powered Educational Learning Library.
It’s a ruggedized, portable solar-powered digital library over an off-line WiFi hotspot, designed to simulate an online experience.
To date, SolarSPELL team members have traveled to FSM, Vanuatu, Tonga, and Samoa in 2015-2017 to carry out training with the Peace Corps volunteers and deploy the first 200+ SPELL libraries—but that is just the first step! Our project incorporates feedback from the field into ongoing improvements, as we look to expand and scale across the Pacific Islands, and beyond, in the coming years.
Why it’s needed
Access to quality education is difficult in resource-constrained locations due to a variety of barriers, including unreliable or non-existent access to the Internet and electricity. Over half the world’s population has no Internet access, yet even with access, connectivity can be expensive, paid for by the byte, and accessed only on a phone. Under these circumstances, locating appropriate educational content can be overwhelming for those with limited exposure to searching the endless web for resources: information literacy skills are unlikely to be developed.
How it works
The SolarSPELL digital library emits an offline WiFi hotspot, to which any WiFi capable device can connect. Library users then have unlimited access to relevant educational material that they can search and surf for free, and are able to download any of the content directly onto their devices for continued access when no longer connected to the SolarSPELL server. No electricity, Internet, or data is required for operation. Having access to a school library, coupled with teacher guidance in its use, improves student outcomes and broadens learning horizons.
How it’s made
All SolarSPELL digital libraries are designed and built by Arizona State University students and SolarSPELL supporters. The hardware is assembled by SolarSPELL volunteer-advocates, while the library’s content is curated and contributed to by ASU librarians, faculty, staff, and students.
Why SolarSPELL is unique
- Localized Content
- In-field implementation and training provided
- Students engaged in all aspects of the project
- Leverages the expertise of professional librarians
SolarSPELL is a student-focused initiative, both locally and globally.
It provides students opportunities to engage globally, behave entrepreneurially, carry out real-world work with purpose and impact, and transform society.
The program currently engages
- 40 students from 19 majors, departments, and programs
- 3 campuses + online