Solar Power Whiteboards Help African Teachers

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) in the Republic of Senegal has given CyberSmart a grant to finance a pilot program which uses solar-powered, interactive whiteboards in rural classrooms. The innovate design forgoes the need for infrastructure, relying on a low cost solar energy system, the specifics of which have not been announced, most likely because the company’s product is still patent-pending.

The interactive whiteboard is complimented by a ‘Smartpen’ that allows teachers and students to interact with the content on the screen, and, according to the company’s website [pdf], affordable USB drives are being adapted for wide-scale use. In order to be effective, all of the components are transportable so that the tools can be shared with educators in a variety of locations.

image via cybersmart.org

Nearly 1.5 billion people lack access electricity, the largest populations living in developing Africa and Asia. Without the ability to learn with the help of adequate technology, children in the poorest areas of the planet will be left further behind in modern development. Cybersmart’s whiteboard is currently being tested in four schools in the Western African nation among teachers instructing students in elementary and middle school.

Hopefully, more and more companies like CyberSmart will find support for similar global projects that can bring information to people regardless of their location. The more energy efficient, sustainable, and low cost these tools are, the better chance they have of being implemented all over the world. And the more people who are educated, the greater possibility of a future student finding the next scientific breakthrough that will better all of our lives.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.