Ingrid Bruynse, Vance Martin, Steve Hull
University of KwaZulu Natal, University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), JISC Digital Media
Two years ago we won the Creative Coffee Concept at DIVERSE 2011 in Dublin. Our proposal at that time was to find ways to use audiovisual content to improve education in KwaZulu Natal, the most remote province and area in South Africa, where the effects of AIDS have ravaged not only the educational system but the entire country. After a number of delays, we were able to initiate a pilot project using new devices that increase access to knowledge in this developing country. One specific device, the Knowledge Box, is a kiosk-based computer system which acts as an offline repository of video and other learning materials, all downloadable to a memory stick, disk or standard 2GS mobile phone.
At last year’s DIVERSE 2012 conference in Leuven we presented a brief progress report and video about the year’s undertakings. The conference very kindly voted to “adopt” our project in 2012 and we’ve received offers of support from many of the attendees, which we would like to continue and follow up by getting partners coordinated in accessing content as well as testing other solutions in remote and unconnected environments.
The project has now been in operation for over a year, with the Knowledge Box first placed in a secondary school and latterly in a regional library and has seen significant usage in the trial during this time. We have been able to collect some data about the need for connectivity and educational resources in poor and remote environment of this region of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, cell phone and internet usage and the effects of devices and needs for learner content that is multimedia in this environment.
The lessons we have thus far learned may be relevant to other developing country contexts or even urban environments, and we wish to present a progress report to DIVERSE 2013 about the current state of the project and possibilities for extension and addition to this project.