Our Mission

The SolarSPELL initiative empowers learners globally by providing localized educational information and the training to build 21st century skills in offline environments.

Student success is central to our mission, both around the world and at Arizona State University.

Our Vision

We envision a future in which all learners everywhere have:

access to the information they need;

skills to turn information into knowledge; and

agency to transform knowledge into solutions.

Our Values

Community: We prioritize relationships within our community and the global communities in which we work. 

Learning: We ask questions and continuously improve all aspects of our initiative.

Innovative solutions at scale: We design for sustainability and boldly believe the opportunities for implementation are limitless. 

Meaningful Work: We are honored to meet people where they are and deliver products and services of value.

Building bridges: We work across borders and disciplines – integrating diverse knowledge and perspectives to build a better future for all.

How do we work?

The SolarSPELL initiative serves unconnected schools and communities by providing a relevant, education-focused, offline digital library — without the need for costly, long-term infrastructure improvements — and matching the technology with locally-based trainers who can support the necessary development of internet-ready skills.

The SolarSPELL (Solar Powered Educational Learning Library) digital library is ultra-portable and offline, generating its own WiFi hotspot to which any WiFi-capable device can connect and freely surf the library's expansive — yet localized — open-access content.

To date, SolarSPELL initiative team members have traveled across the Pacific and East Africa to carry out training with local teachers, health care workers, and Peace Corps volunteers and deploy SolarSPELL libraries, but that is just the first step! We incorporate feedback from the field into ongoing improvements, as we prepare to expand.

The three focus areas for current and future projects include:
- US Peace Corps countries, globally, supporting the education sector
- Nursing Schools in East Africa
- Primary and secondary schools in East Africa Refugee Camps

Why we are 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, and 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 vast amount of online information for resources: information and digital literacy skills are unlikely to be developed.

Why we are unique

  • Solar-powered, portable, ruggedized, easy-to-use device
  • Localized, digital content
  • Offline library
  • Open-access content
  • Train-the-trainer model
  • In-field partnerships and user feedback
  • Updated library versions
  • Internet-readiness focus
  • University-based
  • Students involved in all aspects
  • Multi-sector focus
  • Global focus
  • Multiple languages

How it’s made

All SolarSPELL digital libraries are designed and built by Arizona State University students and SolarSPELL initiative supporters. The hardware is assembled by our volunteer-advocates, while the library’s content is curated and contributed to by ASU librarians, faculty, staff, and students.

How the digital library 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.

We are a student-focused initiative, both locally and globally.

The SolarSPELL initiative provides students opportunities to engage globally, behave entrepreneurially, carry out real-world work with purpose and impact, and transform society. Every semester the SolarSPELL initiative engages 60-75 ASU students from classes, capstones, or internships.