On October 17th, the SolarSPELL team hosted the third annual SolarSPELL training workshop with Peace Corps Vanuatu! Two workshops were conducted, with Peace Corps volunteers serving in both health and education capacities, culminating in 32 trained Peace Corps volunteers, 10 trained local counterparts, and 4 trained Peace Corps staff members.

Following an overview of the SolarSPELL project, Emily, an ASU Doctoral Nursing student, led the group in a walk-through of content available on the updated Pacific Islands library. Although a wide variety of content housed in the library was highlighted, Emily was an expert on sharing health care resources, as she has personally helped to create new health related videos for the SolarSPELL library.

Bruce Baikie, SolarSPELL’s Technical Lead, provided a demonstration of how to connect to and use the SolarSPELL hardware. During this demonstration, he also explained the important difference between WiFi and the Internet, which helped trainees understand how WiFi technology enables the use of an offline digital library, without use of the Internet.

Once the trainees were comfortable connecting to a SolarSPELL digital library and had time to explore the content, Chloe Scott led an activity in which the Peace Corps volunteers and their local counterparts identified resources in the library that could be meaningfully used in their communities. This activity led into Chloe discussing different use cases of the SolarSPELL, such as to create lesson plans or to start a SolarSPELL student club that encourages reading.

Kristen Linzy discussed the importance of conducting in-field impact evaluation, and highlighted the multiple methods employed to gather feedback for ongoing process and content improvement. Using data and stories collected through impact evaluation across SolarSPELL sites, Kristen was also able to share detailed examples of how Peace Corps volunteers around the world have found innovative ways to engage their communities with the digital library.

During our third year in Vanuatu, the SolarSPELL team was able to see firsthand how SolarSPELLs have become integrated into the schools and health clinics where volunteers serve. Furthermore, we asked the newest cohort of Peace Corps volunteers how many of them were already familiar with the SolarSPELL project from their site’s previous volunteer, and were delighted to see several volunteers raise their hands!