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New Report: Transforming Teaching Through Tablets

  1. Posted by Inveneo on August 13, 2014 in the categories: Education, Publications, User Machine
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Education in Haiti is vastly changing. Where teachers once had a few books to offer their students, now they have an incredible wealth of resources available to them through Google Nexus 7 Tablets. TabletsHaitiAnd thanks to Inveneo and our partners like Google and the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, we have made these educational tools to over 1,000 students in Haiti.

Check out our recent report, “Transforming Teaching Through Tablets“, which showcases our project’s benchmarks achieved and success rate as of August 2014. Written by our Project Manager in Haiti, Michelet Guerrier, the report gives a detailed narrative on the current tablet training and professional development resources we offer Haitian educators.

Click here to read the report.

Why Education Improves with Tablets in Rural Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on June 16, 2014 in the categories: Education, News, Projects
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One of the sessions from Inveneo's TTT Project. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

One of the sessions from Inveneo’s TTT Project. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

Inveneo has worked very hard to help teachers in rural Haiti gain adequate access to new educational tools and resources. Led by the our team’s project manager in Haiti, Michelet Guerrier, Inveneo recently held a third Tablet training event, part of the Transforming Teaching through Tablets (TTT) project. The training, which was held in a remote part of southeast Haiti called Cascade Pichon, lasted three days. It hosted a total of 15 teachers who came from three separate schools.

How are these Tablets and training session helping teachers achieve greater educational success with their students? What are teachers using them for, and what are the challenges that come with the Tablets?

Greater Access to Digital Content

A session on different learning styles. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

A session on different learning styles. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

Michelet reports that Haitian teachers have been using their Tablets as a resource library. They were most interested in the offline dictionaries and the digital library that offers hundreds of books right at their fingertips. In addition, the Tablets also offer French grammar content which the teachers found useful to create better lessons for their students.

Professional Development

During Inveneo’s training sessions, not only were teachers provided the apps and tools to work on their Tablets, but they were also given a session on professional development. Michelet held a few sessions where he presented apps on the Tablet to model how some of the apps can be adapted for teaching, learning, and evaluation. To gain practice the teachers did a simulation class for each other, and feedback was then offered from their peers.

The school under construction. This is what the school looked like on May 30, 2014. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

The school under construction. This is what the school looked like on May 30, 2014. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

Awareness of ICT Issues

The teachers in Haiti were very happy with the Tablets and tablet training process. It’s been reported that they are using Tablets at least five days per week! With all these positive points there are also a few problems that go along with using Tablets.

Internet connectivity is not very strong but very much a challenge in Cascade Pichon. During the training Michelet and a few others traveled to nearby hills to see if there was a better connection. A weak signal was available (at times) but it wasn’t good enough to send emails or to use Google’s search engine.

The second issue at hand is the lack of electricity. The school nearby is currently under construction and does not yet offer the community electricity. This gives the teachers limited time that they can use the Tablets. To charge up, teachers end up going outside of Cascade Pichon to charging stations (where they also charge their phones). To charge a Tablet it costs 25 Haitian gourdes which equals about $0.55 USD.

Michelet left the latest TTT training session in Haiti on a positive note. He describes “after these sessions, we are convinced that the decision to bring the Teacher Tablet project to this remote community was a complete gain considering the long-term impact that [it] should have on the teachers, students, and the community as [a] whole.”

Inveneo is proud to partner with other organizations to make this project possible. We would like to thank UMCom, Library for All, Gumdrop Cases, Heart to Heart, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, Google, and the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection for being a part of this continued project in rural Haiti.

Tablet Training for Teachers in Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on May 14, 2014 in the categories: Education, News, Projects
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Inveneo is committed to improving education throughout Haiti through the use of ICTs, particularly Tablets.

Teachers gather together to send and receive files via Bluetooth. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

Teachers gather together to send and receive files via Bluetooth. Photo credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

On Friday, April 10, 2014, United Methodist (UM), Heart to Heart, and our Inveneo Haiti team met together to select the 3rd pilot school for the TTT (Transforming Teaching through Tablets) project. The Inveneo team agreed to select a school in Cascade Pichon, near Bellanse (in the southeast part of the country). Pastor Cayce, on behalf of UM, proposed the school. This was in collaboration with Heart to Heart International, who has been doing incredible projects in Pichon for education, healthcare, and community organizing.

A few days later, we headed early to Cascade Pichon, which can be quite difficult to get to by car. We took the challenge head-on and drove the rocky and dangerous road to meet the community of Pichon. Soon it was time to launch the training and put Tablets in the hands of these incredibly motivated teachers!

The Teacher Tablet Training had 15 teachers from three schools (FORPPE du Nazaréen de la Cascade, Ecole Nationale Bois-de-Lance, and Ecole Nationale Nan Hauteur). Most of the teachers walked 2-3 hours to attend the all-day training. In three days we had an intensive 20-hour training for the primary school teachers. We held the training at the only health clinic in the community (since there is no local school building), and our electricity came from a generator from the only place visitors stay when they come to the community.

Enseau Blaise shows what he discovered on the Tablet. Photo Credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

Enseau Blaise shows what he discovered on the Tablet. Photo Credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

During those three days, we introduced the teachers to the concept of professional development as a lifetime process. They concluded that professional development was a “must” for teachers to improve their capacity and facilitate learning. Although they were very interested in using the Tablets, I felt that the professional development module was equally important.

What did the Haitians teachers think of the training? Vitane Jean, one of the two female participants, thought that the training allowed them to understand that there is always room for improvement to become a better teacher. Chango Noncent, the School Director of Ecole Nationale Bois-de-Lance, said the training offered the rare opportunity for teachers to get together and learn from each other. The Inveneo team was happy to see how fast they understood that they were each other’s best resources.

Each teacher received a Nexus 7 Tablet, which were all donated by Google. They came loaded with about 50 educational apps including a library they can use for reference and classroom activities. This was all made possible with the generous donations of Library for All and Gumdrop Cases. These apps feature subjects that are taught in primary schools across Haiti: Language, Math, Science, Social Science, and the Arts. We gave several demonstrations on how they can use the apps with their students. This was an important part of the training because as new ICT users, the teachers needed to see the many opportunities that the Tablet offers. Tablets give an wide variety of teaching and learning activities to make lessons more interesting, and our teachers were excited to start using them right away.

To ensure ongoing technical support for the teachers, we identified two participants from the group to coach and facilitate online interaction with the group since The Inveneo team will not be able to go there every week.

Personally, I was very satisfied with this training because of three main reasons:

Ronald Benjamin shows how to use extra parts that come with the Tablet. Photo Credit: Michelet Guerrier - Inveneo

Ronald Benjamin shows how to use extra parts that come with the Tablet. Photo Credit: Michelet Guerrier – Inveneo

1. Engagement: The teachers valued the training and actively participated. We did not go there for nothing. We went there for those who need it most. The teachers were very passionate about ICT and interested in the training activities.

2. Teamwork: The teachers were wonderful to work with. They expressed their thanks and gratitude to the UM, Heart to Heart, and Inveneo teams for bringing these tools, training, and resources to the community. This was all possible because of the generous support of Google for providing Nexus 7 tablets for the teachers, the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund, and the United Methodist Church of Resurrection.

3. Impact: We seem to have brought them something useful to help make a change. The teachers want to use what they have gained from the TTT project to improve their knowledge that will better help their students. In the future we hope to hear stories about what they have accomplished with their Tablets.

Written by Michelet Guerrier, Inveneo’s Project Manager for Haiti

Inveneo Transforms Teaching Through Tablets in Rural Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 1, 2014 in the categories: Education, News, Projects
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Teachers in training

Teachers in training

In March 2014 Inveneo launched a new project for primary school teachers in Haiti. The TTT (Transforming Teaching through Tablets) project is designed to improve teaching and learning in primary schools by providing teachers in rural Haiti with training and access to digital educational resources. Educators from two primary schools in the area of Petit-Goâve already received Nexus 7 tablets loaded with educational content and tools for professional development. In addition, they are participating in training on how to use the new technology tools to access information, acquire knowledge and collaborate with peers. The training and mentoring provided to teachers are intended to improve their confidence and capacity to deliver quality education in the classroom. Besides the initial on-site training, teachers will be participating in weekly online sessions via their tablets for several months where they will be learning about teaching, about classroom activities to foster 21st century learning and about ICT in the classroom.

An information session on professionnal development

An information session on professionnal development

The program was designed with the needs of Haitian primary school teachers in mind. Many teachers in rural Haiti have not received any or very little teacher training and have no access to resources like libraries or the Internet. We made sure the program would be relevant to the teachers’ needs and interests. They need technology, access to resources that support their work, training and ongoing coaching to become independent learners. The Haiti team (composed of PM Michelet Guerrier, Rico Mondesir, and Ronald Benjamin) is supported by Inveneo Education Solutions Director Sybille Fleischmann and San Francisco-based engineers. The team has been responsible for selecting schools, preparing administrators, identifying content, training development, setup of tablets and finally training delivery.

We are currently working with 21 teachers, 13 from College Harry Brakeman and eight from Ecole Methodiste de Hyacinthe, a small community located about one hour drive from the city of Petit-Goâve along a bumpy dirt road. There is no Internet connectivity in Hyacinthe available today. The teachers are willing to travel all the way to Petit-Goâve to find Internet access. Connectivity might finally reach their community later this year. The enthusiasm, motivation and interest for learning about technology and improving their teaching skills shows that these teachers are gaining an awareness of new challenges in the teaching profession and want to be ready to prepare their students with competencies for the 21st century. We see this as an important step to improving the quality of education.

Guirlène René showing how to enlarge content on the screen

Guirlène René showing how to enlarge content on the screen

The teachers were not sure how tablets could help them expand their knowledge and skills until they had the tablets in their hands and started exploring them. They were excited to learn about the tools and what they could do with them. Access to hundreds of books in French and Haitian Kreyol through Library for All, curricula of the Ministry of Education, offline apps and Internet access for research, communication, and collaboration have been described by the school director from Hyacinthe, Thony Domique, as closing the gap between city teachers and rural teachers.

In this program, we are working with preschool and fundamental education teachers. This includes Kindergarden and 1st to 6th grade. In the Haitian system, a teacher at the fundamental level teaches all subjects to a class. So what we have is a mix of teachers teaching different levels and age groups with classes of 35 to 50 students. The teachers will use their tablets to access information both offline and online, prepare lessons, create activities for the classroom, and share content with their students using a projector.

Rico demonstrating how to lauch apps

Rico demonstrating how to lauch apps

Wilson Monice, Director at College Brakeman said, “The first impact these tablets will have is on teacher and school image”. All parents want their children to have a quality education, and access to quality education passes through the training of teachers to develop new teaching and ICT competencies to enhance students’ learning. Consequently, schools with these teachers will be described as good schools and will be respected in the community.

A teacher with a tablet has access to lots of resources for professional development, references to sample lesson plans, learning activities for students, and content that will help teachers prepare the lessons. An expected outcome will be on the improvement of students’ performance.

A better education to the children in the community will contribute to making a change in the life of the community at different levels. The community should start to feel less marginalized as the people get more informed, educated and can participate in making decisions for themselves. We believe education supported by technology can help make this happen and bring hope to the community as a whole.

Progress continues in the Teacher Training classes

Progress continues in the Teacher Training classes

Working as the Project Manager has been such an honor. Being an educator myself, I have been lucky to be able to share and learn from all of these wonderful teachers’ experiences. And the surprise, so far, has been the level of commitment we have seen in these teachers who have so many years of  experience. Many of them have been in the teaching profession for more than 30 years, and they agree they need new skills to do what they like doing the most. We hope to inspire them to continue improving their teaching capacity to serve the children in these communities who need quality education most.

Thanks to our partners who made it possible to launch this ambitious program. Thanks to Google for providing Nexus 7 tablets for the teachers, and thanks to the Craig Newmark Philanthropic Fund and United Methodist Church of Resurrection for their financial support and assistance with in-country coordination.

Written by Michelet Guerrier, Project Manager for Inveneo Haiti Education

Field-Testing an Android-Based Survey Tool in Micronesia

  1. Posted by Aaron Mason on April 3, 2013 in the categories: News
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Danny from Inveneo partner iSolutions (left) and Mark from FSM Telecom take a FormHub survey using Android smartphones at the Rominum School in Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia. Photo: Andris Bjornson
Danny from Inveneo partner iSolutions (left) and Mark from FSM Telecom take a FormHub survey using Android smartphones at the Rominum School in Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia. Photo: Andris Bjornson

Collecting information in the field has never been an easy task. A combination of GPS units, clipboards and cameras makes the typical site survey a bulky, labor-intensive affair. This past week, however, saw Inveneo’s first field test of a simple solution. With a donation of Android-based phones from Google.org Andris Bjornson, Inveneo’s CTO, implemented a new workflow while on project in Micronesia.

The workflow is based around several different technologies working together. GPS-enabled camera phones can collect all of the data necessary, the Android platform makes the system easy – and affordable – to deploy anywhere in the world and FormHub and odkCollect are used to initialize, collect and manage the data. The web-based service FormHub sets up the surveys by turning properly formatted Excel spreadsheets into a database back-end that records and plots all of the data collected. The Android app odkCollect captures and uploads the data, and can be used with or without connectivity, uploading data the next time the surveyor has internet access.

Bjornson was extremely pleased with the performance of the system in the field, both in it’s capacity and it’s flexibility. The system proved extremely robust, collecting data and deploying dynamic surveys that respond to the answers given.

“The collection and form design experience is awesome. The fact that something I’d call intermediate to advanced was this easy to use was huge,” said Bjornson.

The workflow proved highly adaptable, allowing for small but important changes like adding a “which island” field (something that only applies in Chuuk’s unusual archipelago environment) and changing “town” to “village” to be made extremely quickly. Details like these are important when deploying a project, as small communications difficulties can have larger ramifications. The team decided on a way to name different versions as the form evolved and moved forward without a hitch.

“The system proved to be a great example of one of our core values: the fusion of local knowledge and technical expertise,” said Bjornson. “It’s important to listen and trust people with local knowledge instead of just telling people how to do things. The flexibility of this workflow let us listen and adapt instantly.”

Working with any new system undoubtedly brings challenges. Bjornson’s first challenge was that Micronesia is wet, really wet, with nearly 200 inches of rainfall each year. Most smartphones are not waterproof, so deploying the devices into the field was a major concern. Fortunately the local engineers were familiar with this and wrapping a plastic bag around the device worked perfectly. When properly fitted, camera, GPS and touchscreen capabilities were unaffected by the thin plastic.

The second challenge came down to bandwidth. Bjornson has extensive experience in low-bandwidth scenarios around the world including working in Haiti, Kenya and Nepal, and the bandwidth in Chuuk was the slowest he’d seen, due to the fact that the entire state’s internet connection comes through one satellite dish. The devices do not need connectivity to collect survey data in the field, but they do need a connection to upload the data they’ve collected. Bjornson was able to connect with the developers in the FormHub Google Group and get immediate feedback and a few potential solutions. After resizing photos and changing a few field types, a workaround was found.

“This first test was a total success,” said Bjornson. “The donated Android phones performed admirably in a harsh environment and the FormHub workflow worked like a charm. We’re looking forward to deploying more of them in the near term for our partners building networks in Haiti and other locations.”

Announcing the launch and Google funding of Inveneo’s Broadband for Good Program

  1. Posted by Inveneo on December 14, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, Education, Healthcare, News
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Inveneo is pleased to announce the launch of our newest program, Broadband for Good™, as well as a $2 Million Google grant in support of this three-year initiative. The goal of Broadband for Good (BB4G) is to catalyze and accelerate availability of high-quality broadband Internet connectivity in rural and under-served regions across the developing world, where it can transform lives through improved education, healthcare and economic opportunity.

Inveneo developed the concept for the Broadband for Good initiative through our experience in deploying broadband and ICT projects in Haiti, Palestine and East Africa and with seed funding from Cisco in 2011-12. These projects have highlighted not just the urgent need for broadband access in marginalized areas, but also the real opportunity to accelerate and expand access through a replicable framework that addresses the main challenges to sustainable broadband in low resource settings. Inveneo is uniquely positioned to spearhead this effort.

Key elements of the Broadband for Good framework include:

  • Low-cost Technology – We leverage new, low-cost networking technology options to minimize capital requirement.
  • Demand Mobilization – We identify and qualify prospective anchor tenants to assess real demand and ensure maximum utilization.
  • Local Carriers as Partners – We partner with in-country service providers to extend their reach to rural users.
  • Open/Shared Access – We employ open access and shared network infrastructure to lower costs and drive local network governance models.
  • Capacity Building – We grow the ability of local entrepreneurs to deliver and support the network. This helps ensure sustainability and adds to the greater local tech economy and ecosystem in each of the countries where we work.

In 2012, Broadband for Good will focus on three goals:

  • Establishing a team of internal and external experts who will formalize and evolve the framework for use in multiple settings.
  • Building a collaborative alliance of organizations and individuals with a shared vision and the technical/organizational capacity to accelerate access to broadband in currently marginalized areas.
  • Identifying and rapidly deploying regional demonstration projects.

Beyond 2012, the Broadband for Good initiative and alliance will be well positioned to partner with governments and other interested organizations to roll out country-wide rural broadband initiatives. Google’s $2m grant is key to the initial development of the program’s methodology, alliance formation and early field projects.

If you are interested in supporting or partnering with Inveneo on the Broadband for Good initiative, please contact us at broadbandforgood@inveneo.org. Come join us as we change the world for the better through broadband.

Congratulations to the Ekialo Kiona Center!

  1. Posted by Inveneo on August 18, 2011 in the categories: Healthcare, News, Projects, Sectors
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The Ekialo Kiona Center serves as an invaluable educational workshop facility for Kenyan students, teachers, health workers, farmers, fisherman, and other interested community members as Mfangano Island’s only public internet access.

Thanks to Craig Newmark, the Craigslist Charitable Foundation, and Google. Inc Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation, the Ekialo Kiona Center now has 10 new Inveneo High Performance Computing Stations and an updated solar power system that supports over 17 computers. As a result, Executive Director Richard Magerenge says:

“The IT room has given the center a new look. People are flocking the computers just to touch them. The word is going round so fast and many people are coming either to see the computers or join the EK club.”

The Ekialo Kiona Center also supports the innovative Cyber-VCT program which leverages intense local enthusiasm for Internet to provide a meaningful incentive and a valid excuse for residents to overcome the stigma and scrutiny commonly associated with stand-alone Voluntary Counseling and Testing centers for HIV and AIDS.

Inveneo is proud to be a facilitator of this unique model and the Ekialo Kiona Center overall.

Digital Divide or Digital Bridge: Can Information Technology Alleviate Poverty?

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 5, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, Events, News
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The past decade has seen great interest in information and communication technologies applied to international development, an endeavor sometimes abbreviated ICTD. Can mobile phones be used to improve rural healthcare? How do you design user interfaces for an illiterate migrant worker? What value is wireless technology to a farmer earning a dollar a day?

In this panel, four prominent thinkers active in ICTD debate the potential for electronic technologies to contribute to the socio-economic development of the world’s impoverished communities.

  1. Eric Brewer is a UC Berkeley professor who develops wireless technologies to connect rural communities.
  2. Megan Smith is vice president of new business development at Google and managing director of Google.org.
  3. Kentaro Toyama is co-founder of Microsoft Research India, and a computer scientist turned technology skeptic.
  4. Wayan Vota is a senior director at Inveneo, a non-profit that works to provide information technology to underserved communities of the developing world.

Digital Divide or Digital Bridge: Can Information Technology Alleviate Poverty?
Wednesday, April 6, 2011, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
School of Information
University of California, Berkeley
102 South Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-4600

New Google Grant for Rural Broadband Model in Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on January 3, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, News, Projects
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Inveneo Funding to Develop and Document Models of Rural Broadband Network Management and Ownership

San Francisco, CA – January 3, 2011 Inveneo, a non-profit social enterprise dedicated to connecting and empowering rural and underserved communities with information and communications technologies (ICTs) in the developing world, announced today that Google has awarded it $182,000 toward its work in Haiti.

This funding will go specifically to develop, document and implement a model of local network ownership and operations for the rural broadband connectivity program Inveneo is deploying in partnership with local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Haitian entrepreneurs.

This connectivity program is supported by an innovative collective of organizations whose focus is ICT entrepreneurial capacity building, and rural economic development and education through ICTs. This collective includes the USAID Global Broadband and Innovations Alliance, NetHope, the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, The EKTA Foundation and Microsoft.

Google’s award will fund the development and implementation of a locally owned operating model for the high-speed, rural broadband wireless connectivity that will be deployed in 20 regional/rural population centers across Haiti, currently not served by local ISPs. This grant is essential for Inveneo to build a model that will enable local ownership and fair use of the network so that ISPs can reach and serve clients (schools, NGOs, enterprises and others) cost effectively.

The rural broadband program, which is designed to be financially sustainable, will deliver affordable Internet services to a range of organizations. The connectivity will enable these organizations to accelerate Haiti’s rebuilding and better position the rural areas for economic development and improved access to opportunity.

“We are thrilled to be able to empower Haitians with affordable and reliable Internet access, and this support from Google is a vital component in our approach,” said Kristin Peterson, Inveneo CEO and Co-Founder. “Google’s participation in the Inveneo Haiti collaborative will strengthen the reach and sustainability of the effort.”

About INVENEO

Inveneo is a U.S.-based social enterprise whose mission is connecting and empowering rural and underserved communities with information and communications technologies. Inveneo’s model of nurturing and supporting local talent to support technical systems and earn income has been successfully implemented around the world. Since 2006, Inveneo and its partners have delivered innovative solutions to more than 1,500,000 people in over 500 communities in 25 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Haiti.