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The Digital Doorway project Presentation to AfriSam 13 October 2010 Ronel Smith

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Presentation on theme: "The Digital Doorway project Presentation to AfriSam 13 October 2010 Ronel Smith"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Digital Doorway project Presentation to AfriSam 13 October 2010 Ronel Smith

2 Background Joint DST / CSIR Meraka initiative Aim: provide a means for people in rural/disadvantaged communities to teach themselves basic computer and information literacy Digital Doorway –Robust, vandal-proof single / multi- terminal system –Content focuses on science, technology, maths, health –Open Source based More than 200 Digital Doorways deployed country wide

3 Digital Doorway Distribution Interactive map: Interactive map -

4 DD design evolution Original single seater 1 st installation: * November 2002 * Cwili, EC * Microsoft * Later converted to Debian * Alternative site needs to be found 2 nd installation: * Mamelodi * Debian Linux * Later moved to school and upgraded to three- seater * Too many users for single seater * Solution: multi-seater configuration * Available: HP441 (Mandrake Linux) * Designed four seater housing 2005 onwards (progressive upgrade to three seater O/S configuration * “Accessible Digital Doorway” * Modified to accommodate physically disabled users * Deployed at Filidelfia School in Soshanguve * Very positive feedback * Disadvantage: big footprint * 2007 onwards * Result of feedback from A&E * More optimal use of resources * Smaller footprint * Mindset incorporated XuBuntu * Improvements: Bluetooth prototypes of VOIP, text based , pre-paid GPRS Internet access demonstrated, remote management system * Solar powered model nearly completed * 2008 * Small footprint * Wall / desk mount * Cost saving * Existing computer labs * Container Digital Doorway * Fully self-contained * Solar powered * Ideal for communities without power and space * 2 deployed – Mpumalanga and KZN * Design protection awarded

5 System Design Philosophy.../1 Ergonomics Users range in age from 5 years old upwards Screen viewing angles Keyboard angle System must improve the look of the site Rugged and robust Environment - Designed to cope with: High temperatures Dust ingress Water ingress Vandalism Unstable electrical supply Installed on a veranda (excluding container DD)

6 System Design Philosophy.../2 Hardware Standard commercially available computer components Ease of assembly Ease of installation Ease of maintenance Adaptable if original components become obsolete Custom kiosk housing Content & Operating System “Self-healing” Software Remote management Provide usage data on users, applications and duration Regularly updated content Desktop clean-up facility Automatically update menus with new content

7 Results Success of robust design: –25 Keyboard failures (mostly vandalism) out of more than 650 installed –15 Acroglass protective screens damaged due to vandalism. Zero failures out of more than 600 after upgrade to Plexiglass –30 LCD failures (predominantly back lighting) and 10 due to vandalism pre upgrade to Plexiglass, zero failures thereafter –7 server component failures out of more than 200 installed –A couple of incidences of damage due to vandalism of housing. Did not affect functioning of DD but resulted in re-allocation to other sites –+95% of DDs reported as “not working” is because power has been switched off

8 Results Successes – Extensive use by community members – Partnerships with other organisations: Syngenta, UNICEF, Commonwealth Secretariat, Monash University, University of the Free State – Very robust design – Low incidence of vandalism – Wide spread install base – Different DD configurations – Continuous technical innovations Bluetooth Prototype pre-paid GPRS internet access Remote management system – Significant cost reduction – Impact on BBBEE / SMMEs – Skills transfer – Design protection on 1 st iteration Container DD – Digital Doorways installed outside South Africa’s borders  Uganda  Ethiopia  Lesotho  Australia  Solomon Islands Challenges – Support and maintenance Supporting large, country-wide install base High cost of travel to do repairs. Lack of reliable human reporting in case of DD failure Verification, as well as accurate and continuous update of location database Connectivity challenges (notably lack of GPRS coverage) preventing proper automatic status reports being received Above addressed through development of remote management system nearing completion Rapidly changing computer hardware: version control, cost of hardware upgrade in case of hw failure, need for store of legacy equipment Process underway to upgrade all DDs to same hardware and software configuration Complaints about cost of electricity / electricity being switched off ( cause of +95% of “DD not working” complaints) ~R320 per DD per month – Content Local language content, acquisition, translation, managing /filtering community generated content Updating content/drivers/patches/ OS versions/… remotely, dependant on all sites being up, necessitates a “centrally controlled” infrastructure

9 Statistics Data is for registered users only; This is a small subset of total users Home language Preferred language

10 Feedback from users “I am now happy. I know the computer, and the computer knows me” DD user, Cwili, EC “This is the first project to take place in our community. I expect the DD to be used by at least 15,000 users by the end of the year” Librarian, Pampierstad, NW “My staff has to switch of the DD after school breaks, otherwise the learners won’t return to their classes” Seshego, Limpopo “Ons se baie dankie vir die “computer”. Elke pause vlieg ons na die computer. Ons speel laat dit bars. Dit is lekker” DD user, Schoombee “Ons se dankie vir die baie mooi rekenaar. Ek hou vd rekenaar want hy wys vir ons alles. Ons laat hy nie rus nie hy kan maar warm raak maar los gaan ons hom nie los nie. Ons speel hom laat hy bars.” DD user, Schoombee “… we can now be empowered and be able to learn about things we would not have been exposed to before. You can understand the excitement and jubilation teachers and learners felt when I broke the good news” Principal, Carshalton Primary School “… will indeed have a positive impact in the lives of our people in the area and the two communities …” Khosi PF Kutama, Kutama Traditional Authority, Limpopo “Baie dankie vir die rekenaar wat julle vir ons bring ons is baie bly vir dit. Ek gee my hele hart vir julle. Ons is baie lief vir julle en julle vir ons.” DD user, Barkley Oos NGK Primêre Skool hi! i'm really enjoying the doorway computers. i've learnt a lots of things.wow! your games rock too and i wish you could add more brain teasing games if it' possible. i've gained lots of information and the doorway computers help me in my school work.

11 … comments I would like to express my appreciation for the contribution that these DDWs are bringing to the rural communities, mostly the poor people who do not have access to computer. The learning contents that make it easy for learners to do assignments, the health contents that make it easy to convey messages to the youth about HIV and Aids. However it is very difficult for people to seek contents and transfer them into books standing. We therefore recommend that this DDW be fitted with a USB slot for easy transference of learning contents since this DDW is getting to be more and utilised for games. We therefore appeal to you to upgrade it to a more usable tool for all. Can you please allow us to send messages and s on the Digital Doorway. Thank u. I’m enjoying using this digital doorway, but you must add things for old persons not for children only e.g. games, internet I am using digital doorway for playing games. writing my homework on it sometimes rearranging my stuff on it and it is so cool because I'm enjoying it a lot. It can be improved by simply having more of them in our areas because we have to walk a long distance to get to use them We would like to request your office to put a printer so that immediately after I finished typing a document I should be able to have a copy for future reference. This machine is working properly. The only problem is that the community want printer. This DD is situated at Sinthumule’ Tshiozwi Tribal Authority. This community are enjoying the DD very well. I'm Lebogang and very exited to have this digital doorway installed in my community, since this is a step forward to computer literacy and science. This is going to reduce the rate of children in conflict with the law since they will be busy experimenting educationally. I would like to see children in this rural community gaining confidence, when they go to higher learning institutions. I'm using the doorway to study. I'm an Abet facilitator and hope that this is going to help at acquiring learner material.

12 Recent anecdotes.../1 University of Zululand Schools from the surrounding areas have scheduled visits to the Science Centre. According to the staff at the centre the DD has become the highlight of some of the schools when they visit the centre. The visiting learners complain bitterly when they cannot access the DD for any reason. The learners need the DD to augment their own research after their sessions at the centre. Motsisi Primary (Mabeskraal, NW) A storm damaged the roof of the building where the DD is located. The school got the fire brigade to wrap the DD securely awaiting relocation. The reason for wrapping up the DD in such a proper manner is to show that they value its worth and that they cannot risk any damage to it. Mbombela Library The staff indicated that they feel that he DD is being underutilised and they said as they know and understand the value of the DD they are going to propose that it be moved to a satellite library in a nearby village where the feel it will make a real difference to the village youth as they do not have ready access to any computers. Soshanguve Fablab The DDs have started to attract learners who need specific information and not just casual browsers as in the past. The new clientele have a need to download information from the DD for their research purposes. The centre management are now going to request that a USB port be provided to enhance the learners’ quest for vital information in the DD. Sun City Day Care Centre (KwaMhlanga) An older kid selected the Tux Maths program and helped a smaller kid onto the steps for him to play the game as they called it. The small kid was very enthralled by the shooting action in the Tux Maths but he was only pressing the directional arrows on the keyboard and shrieked every time the program “shot” at the numbers. What stuck with us (Ingwapele support technician) was the fact that the older kid only started the program for the small one and then left him to try and figure it out despite the fact that the small one has a zero level of literacy, they understand that games can teach. Zandspruit - Emthonjeni Community Centre I (Monash PhD student involved in community) chatted to some adults (late twenties, early thirties) in the community and they indicated that they thought the DD was a kids play station. This is probably because kids are always playing on it and possibly because it is bright orange. When I then demonstrated a few functions to some of these adults they then said that there should be DDs everywhere!

13 Recent anecdotes.../2 Zandspruit The kids say they enjoy the games on the DD, but enjoy "What-What Mzanzi" the best. They say the "questions are very challenging". The community leaders say that the kids have taught themselves all the short cuts with the "left and right arrows, which they use in preference to the mouse". The leaders have noticed the kids play "What-What Mzanzi, Chess and they enjoy composing their own music - "Hydrogen". When the DD needs to be re-booted, there are a few kids who even know which switch to press to do this. Zandspruit Before the DD was installed at Emthonjeni, it was the kids who attend the Saturday morning programme at MSA who kept coming through to the centre to ask when it was arriving. And it is mainly the school kids who are using it now, especially the young boys. All the school kids get breakfast at Emthonjeni each morning before school, and before breakfast is handed out, they catch a few minutes on the DD. Straight after school they're back on the DD. On many occasions the community leaders have had to chase away the school kids during school hours, because they've found out that the kids are "bunking school" in order to play on the DD. They pretend they are sick so that they can play on the DD. Zandspruit When the community was told about the DD, they were very sceptical about actually getting it, because so often, so much has been promised to the community and it never materialises. Also the leaders in the community thought that "this computer that was to be installed outside, in the open and freely available for anyone to use", would last only a few days. They thought that it would be vandalised and/or stolen in less than a week. One leader said at the launch in February, "I hope the people don't abuse the DD". Having said that, he went on to say that "the community was very ready for the Digital Doorway. Zandspruit Adults living in the community had the perception that the DD was "a computer only for the kids", but the leaders have encouraged them to try it. "They are however, afraid of being laughed at". A few have watched their children play on the DD and have subsequently come forward to ask for formal lessons to "learn the computer better". Apparently, the adults' main wish is to communicate with the outside world. They want to "chat" to their friends; gain financial literacy skills; look for job opportunities; reply to possible employment advertisements; learn how to start and run a small business. They all have cell phones, so for them to advertise their services and/or availability for work would be a great bonus for them. There are many opportunities for the adults to use the DD during school hours, but (at the moment) there are no specific needs for them other than those mentioned. Their generation is still one of "word-of-mouth" and completely computer-illiterate, so they don't yet trust the information and the services provided by the DD. They perceive that the DD is only about "playing games" (by observing the loud excitement emanating from the young boys playing on the DD) and they haven't got time to play games. A better understanding about the DD is however happening slowly, but its going to take a few more months for word to spread through the community. The leaders are slowly spreading the word to anyone who asks about the DD. They have often taken interested adults down to the DD and have shown them how to get started.

14 … feedback “Baie dankie vir die Rekenaar. Ons speel lekker rekenaar ons speel hom warm hy is mooi en ons speel aartappel “game” en ons is baie bly en ons speel laat” Martiens Graad 3

15 Suggested future projects Installation of remote management system in all 210 DDs Manufacture hardware Installation APN Digital Doorway impact study Development of new content and applications Northern Cape Department of Education Content and applications useful to adult users Incorporate feedback from UNISA Masters student re usability Methodology & technical platform for communities to develop and upload own content Community Informatics / Living Labs DD in community context Integrating with other projects 3 seater solar powered DD Making DD results visible / increasing project profile Enter competitions (e.g. Stockholm Challenge) Write articles / present at conferences Exhibit at shows Apply for patents / design protection / etc.

16 Flagship developments and cooperation UNICEF Uganda Pacific Suriname Guyana Tertiary institutions Monash Australia Monash South Africa (Zandspruit) University of the Free State (Mangaung) University of Venda University of Pretoria (SEIDET, KwaMahlanga) DST IKS

17 Socio-technical perspective Feedback from users, roles, quickscan Collaboration patterns in networks Social media in communities Context, tools, goals Verbalize expectations Common issues Reinvent themselves Larry and recording feeback in communities

18 Conclusion “I am now happy. I know the computer, and the computer knows me”

19 Contact us


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