2/28/2015

TabLab Launches in Tanzania!

Last month TabLab launched a two-year pilot at Banjika Secondary School, a rural high school serving just under 450 students in northern Tanzania. The goal is to prove that TabLab is an effective tool in helping rural schools leverage technology and transform their learning environments.

    After a two-year pilot in Costa Rica, this is TabLab’s first foray in Africa. The goals of the TabLab pilots are to develop a curriculum guide and carefully collect data on TabLab’s impact to allow for future growth of the program. 

    TabLab consists of 20 tablets (Apple iPad Minis) in a humidity-proof box on wheels. The tablets connect wirelessly to a BRCK, a rugged device designed by the Ushahidi organization based out of neighboring Kenya. BRCK converts a 3G cell signal to WiFi and allows up to 20 tablets to access internet without access to broadband. This version also has 5 times as many offline apps as previous iterations of TabLab.

    The Tanzania TabLab pilot was funded after leaders from Ericsson, a Swedish technology company, visited Banjika Secondary School in 2014. These leaders, who participate each year in a leadership development program in Tanzania, are now raising funds to continue the project. TabLab Tanzania is also supported by Otterbox, DreamBox, A-Z Learning, Handwriting Without Tears, and other sponsors.

    As part of the TabLab program, Banjika will receive two years of support from a local TabLab teacher trainer who will help teachers learn how to best integrate tablets and 21st century education into their existing curricular requirements. We are proud to announce that Zachariah Mbasu will serve in this role. Zach has earned a masters degree in statistics, speaks Swahili, and will be working with Banjika's teachers to design curriculum, write lesson plans, and assess student learning. In the first three days of his work, Zach teamed up with Banjika's math teacher, Nicholas Paschal, to run a geometry class using the offline app "GeoGebra”. 

    “Overseas school leaders at Banjika and many other schools tell us consistently that their main challenges are the Digital Divide and access to teacher training,” said TabLab Executive Director Ross Wehner, who was present at the Banjika launch. “TabLab allows schools to tackle both these challenges, even if they do not have reliable electricity or internet."

    Banjika is a particularly challenging deployment precisely because the school does not have hardwired broadband or electrical lines. With Zach's skills and Ericsson's support, we are sure that TabLab can prove that a school's remoteness no longer necessarily means that it cannot provide a modern education.

TabLab Rolls Out Branding

Graphic designer Jeremy Sweeting from Perth, Australia, designed TabLab’s new logo, which will drive the look-and-feel of its upcoming website. The logo adorns the new Defender Series cases, which were provided at a deep discount by Otterbox in Fort Collins, CO. The printing company Coveroo in San Francisco, CA, also provided discounted printing for the cases. The cases protect the iPads and protect them from both humidity and moisture.

 
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