Inveneo Youth Archives

Opening a New World of Educational Content for ICT Students

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on August 21, 2014 in the categories: Education, News

University life is an exciting time for students around the world. As undergraduates work hard in their studies and set their hopes for the future, the ICT field continues to expand in countless ways. Unfortunately, ICT students around the world don’t have equal access to the same resources. For example, while students in the United States enjoy computer labs and state-of-the-art equipment, students in the DR Congo lack computers and current computer science coding material, making them ill-equipped to market themselves on a global scale.


An IT classroom with students in the DR Congo. The IT students currently don’t have access to many computers making their IT studies difficult. Photo Credit: Jill Costello – Inveneo

What’s the result? University students in the DR Congo who graduate with a college degree in ICT who rarely worked on computers. But UMCom and Inveneo are working together to change that.

Led by UMCom’s Director of ICT4D Church Initiatives, Rev. Neelley Hicks has asked Inveneo to setup a server installed and loaded with educational content that students in developing countries can access when they don’t have reliable Internet connectivity.

As a first step this past summer, Inveneo’s tech-savvy intern Corbin Halliwill scoured the Internet to find French university-level content that students in the DR Congo could eventually use offline. Just like World Possible’s RACHEL server and the eGranary Digital Library, Inveneo plans to create a server that is filled with diagrams, slides, documents, and videos that students can reach when offline. (Additionally, from time to time, they may still need a WiFi connection to connect to the server for updates, etc.)

Corbin has found a vast amount of educational material that he feels is reliable and relatable to his own courses he took at UC Berkeley in California. He has worked hard to organize the content by classes, categories, and tags, all to help students in the DR Congo grab what they need efficiently and easily. Going forward, Inveneo’s talented intern Eric Zan will take over the project, continue to download the content, and place it all on a Synology diskstation. UMCom will eventually take the Synology diskstation and will use it in computer labs they are building in the DR Congo.

Inveneo’s long term goals with this project are to give users the ability to select which content they want. In addition, the team is hoping to eventually allow people to contribute or update content as it becomes available. The project will be open sourced so other professors, students, and universities may utilize it in the future. Inveneo and UMCom have enjoyed the combined efforts made in this project, and they are both very excited about how this could positively impact students around the world for years to come!

Meet Inveneo’s 2014 Summer ICT Interns

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on June 24, 2014 in the categories: Education, News

The Inveneo team has been lucky to bring on four new interns this summer. Hailing from Harvard, Northwestern, and UC Berkeley, these four individuals are bringing innovative ideas and fresh insight to our current ICT projects. They are helping our engineers by conducting online research, surveys, and technical documentation. A few are also providing assistance to the editorial team for both the Inveneo and ICTworks websites and newsletters.

We are very happy to have these four individuals join the Inveneo staff for the summer. Check out who recently joined our team!


AtulSquareAtul Adhikari was born in Cambodia, where he spent the first five years of his life. He then went to Nepal and lived in the capital city Kathmandu for 13 years. He is currently in the U.S. studying Computer Engineering and Economics at Northwestern University. He loves to travel, read, and meet new people. Having recently interned at two different education development organizations in Nepal, he is very excited by the idea of introducing technology to rural parts of the world in order to address problems and improve the quality of life for communities everywhere.

At Northwestern, he is part of Engineering World Health and the NUSTARS satellite team where he has been involved with several interesting projects, one of them being the development of a multi-parameter tester for hospital equipments in Rwanda. He loves startups and hopes to create one of his own after graduation. Currently he is working with a startup group of Northwestern MBA students named Reachey. You can reach him by email.


CorbinSquareCorbin Halliwill studies Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC Berkeley, with an additional focus in Global Poverty and Practice. In addition to working at Inveneo this summer, Corbin is building a mobile app that empowers students to connect with each other to walk home at night. This app will aggregate data about crime and street lighting to find safer walking paths and integrate existing campus safety tools with an intuitive user-experience at its core.

Corbin was recently a finalist at the Big Ideas at Berkeley Contest. He is also a webmaster and an executive board member for Engineers without Borders at the UC Berkeley Chapter. He spends his free time outdoors as much as possible sailing, backpacking, and skiing.


DanielleSquareHappily trekking from the east coast to the west coast, Danielle Schulkin is a recent graduate of Harvard University (’14) where she studied the History of Science and Government. At school, she worked for the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where she fostered an interest in the ways new technologies can be harnessed for the public good. She is looking forward to delving into the many ways Inveneo leverages ICT4D and expanding her understanding of the intersection between innovation, law, and society.

In the past she has interned at The Washington Post and has worked as a student coordinator for Harvard’s 2013 Hack IP Challenge. Upon completion of her Inveneo internship she will be travelling to Tel Aviv, Israel as a fellow for the prestigious Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Fellowship Award. You can follow her on Twitter.


EricSquareEric Zan is interested in how information can play an empowering role in human lives by enhancing a person’s agency and freedoms. Eric was first introduced to the ICT4D world after he quit his software engineering job to help start an ICT4E program in Cameroon with Helps International. He then attended graduate school at UC Berkeley where he spent much of his time researching best practices for ICT4D projects, telling stories with data, and designing products for social impact. His affinity for nature and conservation led him to use his newfound skills as a product designer and user researcher to improve the visitor experience in California’s public places and the United States’ National Parks.

He is a co-founder of Sahay, a social enterprise leveraging information technologies to empower domestic help workers through greater access to job opportunities in India. Eric has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas and a Master’s Degree in Information Management from UC Berkeley’s School of Information. He is currently working on his startup, Sahay, and enjoys helping the great people at Inveneo for the summer. You may find Eric hiking, biking, or kayaking Northern California or virtually at LinkedIn, Twitter, on the web, or by email.

Inveneo Joins with U.S. Students to Further ICT Research

  1. Posted by Jana Melpolder on June 11, 2014 in the categories: Education, News

Inveneo recently joined with Illinois Institute of Technology’s Professor Laura Hosman to lead student teams in addressing the challenges facing off-grid schools that want to harness ICTs to improve educational opportunities for local students. Bridging together their hard work, skills, and efforts, the student teams successfully developed the SolarCubed ICT Lab, which is a portable solar computer lab in a box that can be conveniently transported to developing schools in need of technology.

A school in Chuuk, Micronesia

A school in Chuuk, Micronesia

SolarCubed was initially deployed to a school in the island state of Chuuk, in the Federated States of Micronesia in 2012. Chuuk is one of four states that comprise the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). The FSM consists of approximately 607 total islands strewn about the Western Pacific that maintain an average temperature of around 87 degrees Fahrenheit year round. Chuuk is the most populous of the states and is home to 11 main lagoon islands and 14 surrounding atolls and lower islands. There is a very high population of youth on these islands.

After the first SolarCubed deployment, it was discovered that the technology was not being used in the school in Chuuk as hoped. What was contributing to the lack of technology use? One of Dr. Hosman’s classes recently created a technology readiness site survey that would determine a school’s readiness and capacity to make use of the solar-powered computer lab. This baseline survey was made to have a factor of universality so it could be used in many different locations around the world to evaluate existing conditions.

With the leadership of Prof. Hosman and partnership of the Inveneo team, the class was given the opportunity to push the envelope on ICT initiatives even further. Inveneo was a huge help when it came to getting this team to think critically from a global point of view. The students wanted to facilitate the survey via Android mobile devices, so that it could be administered on-the-go on the most commonly used devices across the developing world.

When the class started in the spring semester of 2014, the students learned that simply providing the SolarCubed ICT Lab to less privileged schools was not an effective method to helping them take advantage of this technology efficiently. The main challenge was figuring out the best way to know which schools could be considered “ready” to make use of the technology, in terms of both the infrastructure and the human side of things, while not being able to travel to Chuuk ourselves.

The class was tasked with creating a technology readiness site survey designed to capture the attitudes of school administrators and teachers towards ICT and the school’s capability of sustaining it. The survey would be administered on a mobile device (for ease of use by the survey administrator), and local partners in Chuuk would be the ones carrying out the survey. Although connectivity would not be a necessity while the survey enumerators were administering the survey, they would eventually upload the survey data to us back in Chicago.  The class planned to assess the factors that were deemed important in terms of schools being able to take advantage of computer-related technology.


Dr. Hosman (center) and her IIT class, 2014.

The survey-making process included:

  • Forming suitable questions that would be easy to comprehend in different regions of the world and would help reveal needs, capabilities, and interest in ICT.

  • Assessing existing open-source software options for creating and administering surveys on mobile devices. The class chose to use ODK (Open Data Kit) Collect as the main survey software, along with FormHub for creating the survey spreadsheet.

  • Administering the survey to multiple test groups, in Chicago and abroad, to help filter out any questions that seemed to be unnecessary or confusing.

The class’ local partner on the ground in Chuuk was the team at iSolutions, a computer networking and consulting business located on the main island of Weno, which is the capital of Chuuk. This team was lead by TR Mori, whom Dr. Hosman originally met while working in Chuuk, Micronesia. iSolutions also runs the only Internet cafe in Chuuk.

To help with this project, the iSolutions team administered the survey on the ground in Chuuk. The iSolutions team members needed to learn how to use “ODK Collect,” the mobile technology platform that was chosen to administer the survey, as well as to familiarize them with both the questions and the overall goals of our survey.

Ultimately, data was collected from six schools. Unfortunately, all of these schools were on the main island, and were not the intended targets. Outer-island schools would be good candidates to receive technology in the future–specifically, the SolarCubed ICT Labs. Each of the main-island schools that was surveyed already had access to both electricity and ICT. Nonetheless, the class could begin analyzing the data to determine whether the assessment tools that were created would be useful.


The data evaluation metric

Data was analyzed by breaking down the portions of our survey into four key attributes that determined overall readiness. The four key attributes included:

  • Potential Impact of the Technology

  • Infrastructure

  • Experience with Technology

  • Attitude Towards Technology

From this point, questions from the survey were grouped based upon their relation to each attribute, and the answers were evaluated to determine readiness.

The students were surprised to have received data from schools that already had access to technology, but this underscored a point that Prof. Hosman emphasized throughout the semester: the human side of technology initiatives is always the most complicated and challenging. Nonetheless, we are confident that with time (and relevant data), our site survey does have the ability to promote accuracy and increase successful efforts to assess the readiness of schools around the world for ICT initiatives, due to its global clarity and effectiveness in assessing global technological needs.

If you would like more information on our project or SolarCubed hubs, please visit to keep up with our progress. Additionally, online versions of the surveys have been uploaded to FormHub and may be found here:

SiteAssessment V1.5 Part 1

SiteAssessment V1.5 Part 2

Written by Anndriene Bell, one of Dr. Hosman’s students at IIT. You can reach Anndriene Bell by email.

Congratulations to BATI Training Graduates – 11 New ICT Technicians for Haiti

  1. Posted by Inveneo on April 13, 2011 in the categories: Economic Development, News

Inveneo recently completed its first BATI training (Bati Anfòmatik Teknisyen yo ak Inveneo) in Mirebalais, Haiti on March 18, 2011. After a week of classroom and hands-on training modules, 11 participants graduated as certified BATI IT technicians.

The Inveneo training is designed to give each BATI a head start in his technology business, and, judging from the feedback of the participants, this first session achieved its goal:

The BATI training had a big impact on the technical interns in helping us get started in the IT markets of Haiti. It helped us perfect our skill by teaching us technology philosophy, its practical usage, and simulations of real-world events. It was also taught in both Creole and French which was greatly appreciated.

One key objective of the BATI program is to address the problem of chronic unemployment among Haiti’s youth through entrepreneurship opportunities. Of the 15 participants who started the BATI training, 11 were unemployed at the time, yet all had graduated high school. Inveneo will continue to train candidates in other provinces of the country, covering 22 communities across six regions.

The BATI program strives to deploy connectivity through an entrepreneurial model that will reach and serve clients (schools, NGOs, enterprises and others) with cost-effective Internet. Each BATI IT technician will work on connectivity and computing support issues with network subscribers, largely nonprofit and community groups throughout Haiti. They will operate as independent consultants, earning revenue from installation and support contracts.

The BATI program is one component of Inveneo’s overall approach in Haiti, which will:

  1. Accelerate deployment of a high speed, broadband wireless network in rural population centers
  2. Train and certify Haitian IT entrepreneurs to deploy, operate and support this network
  3. Develop a sustainable business model of local network ownership and operations for the broadband wireless network,
  4. Deploy new, relevant technology in education to increase ICT knowledge and usage.