"The SolarSPELL has made me more effective as a Peace Corps volunteer because of the various resources that I now have at my disposal. There's so much more that I can do with the SolarSPELL than I could do with just outdated textbooks and various handmade materials."

Peace Corps Volunteer

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 across the Pacific and East Africa to carry out training with local teachers, health care workers, and Peace Corps volunteers to deploy the first 275+ 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.

Making use of open educational resources and ever-smaller and more efficient technology, SolarSPELL provides an all-in-one, self-powered plug-and-play kit, ready to be deployed with minimal training or maintenance required for start-up and continued operation.

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.

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
  • University-based
  • Solar-powered

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.

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 external 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.

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.

Every semester SolarSPELL engages

- about 50 ASU students from classes, capstones, or internships
- ASU students from over 19 majors, 3 campuses, in-person and online

Building the SolarSPELL digital libraries

SolarSPELL Build Days offer the opportunity for volunteers to engage in a hands-on STEM-focused activity, participate in a local initiative with global impact, roll their sleeves up and build something, and contribute to empowering learners around the world.

SolarSPELL Implementation Sites