Page 15 - Campus Technology, October/November 2019
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Besides the improvements in students’ marketing and financial analysis skills, an unexpected outcome was a boost in digital literacy. Society at Arizona State. SolarSPELL uses a simple and inexpensive design (the parts cost less than $200), porta- ble enough to tuck into a backpack. The weatherproof, portable case contains a small solar panel and a voltage regulator that plugs into a battery to power a Raspberry Pi micro- computer. A micro digital memory card plugs into the microcomputer. The card contains all of the digital library content and some code that allows it to be accessed by any type of browser as well as a Moodle learning manage- ment system. The device creates a WiFi hotspot requiring no electricity or internet connection, and can support between 15 and 17 users in one sitting working on smart- phones or tablets. On the content side, Carrie Bauer, instruc- tional designer for Education for Humanity, faced an immediate challenge. In spite of numerous attempts to work with the company that produced the textbook already being used for the Agribusiness course, the publish- er wouldn’t budge: It wasn’t interested in hav- ing its copyrighted content made available directly on SolarSPELL, “despite the many passwords and security that we have on it.” So Englin and Bauer turned to open educa- tional resources. Helped by a librarian with subject-matter expertise and a teaching assis- tant, the team compiled a replacement cur- riculum using freely available content as an alternative. While Education for Humanity worked on producing the content and making it locally relevant, Windle covered the logistics: provid- ing facilitators, helping to create the space and recruiting students. Then, each day for seven and a half weeks between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., two cohorts of 15 students apiece were invited to come to the classroom and work through the self-paced course. Two facilitators were on hand to set up SolarSPELL and make “rolling library labs” available, outfitted with six Kindles and six Galileo tablets, each with a detachable key- board. Because there weren’t enough devices for every student, they shared them in pairs. After 2 p.m., the facilitators had the rest of the day (and daylight) to recharge the devices and extra batteries. The course followed a 95-5 model, said Bauer, meaning 95 percent of the time the students were accessing course materials offline — readings, PowerPoints, quizzes — while connected to the LMS through Sol- arSPELL; the other 5 percent of the time was handled through cellular connectivity. “Each facilitator was given a phone. At the very end \[of each unit\] students would take a 15 

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