Classroom Without Walls

Tablet computers are becoming more widely available. The education community has been considering m-learning as a supportive paradigm in informal learning and Tablets have the potential to make a significant contribution in this area. However, Tablets are designed as appliances that help user access a variety of applications and services hosted on the Internet. Designing “apps” for iPad/iOS or for Android has been a favored route in the education community.

Photo Credit: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This, however, cannot be the only approach when it comes to learning-for development paradigm. A large number of learners and teachers in the developing world operate in “unconnected” environments- unconnected to the power grid and to the Internet. There needs to be a different approach to extend them support.

This is where COL’s idea of a “classroom without walls” (Asha Kanwar) can make a contribution. We can imagine a situation where a learner in a typically unconnected environment can access a lesson in an LMS, and complete an assignment, with her/his credentials intact and available to the teacher. Learners can also participate in a socializing process through visiting and commenting on a blog related to the learning materials and courses. This might sound more relevant in Higher Education. Starting from there, it can be extended and adapted to Open Schooling and Non-formal learning in rural and agricultural extension.

At the heart of this is the availability of dual-core tablets and smartphones at affordable prices. One can use a dual core Tablet to create a server that runs Ubuntu, an Open Source operating system widely used in PC’s/laptops, on which an LMS (say, Moodle)  and a social networking or content management system (say, WordPress) can be installed. A battery-powered WiFi hotspot can help create a network to which Tablets with learners can be connected. In the following, a preliminary, and successful trial is described. Asha Kanwar is of the view that it should be possible to develop a pack under $ 100 that can enable a teacher to run a classroom without those ubiquitous walls.

Classroom without Walls device configuration

Device Configuration Video

Wireless Hot Spot Setup

  • Configure ASUS WL-330gE Wireless AP
  • Setup DHCP (Follow the instruction manual) to support at least 200 clients.

Server Setup

  • Follow the instruction here to install Ubuntu 12.04 on Google Nexus 7.
  • Install LAMP on ubuntu
  • Install Moodle using Git
  • (optional) import Moodle courses.
  • Install WordPress
  • (optional) create sample WordPress website.
  • Install Drupal (to be updated)
  • Install Canvas using Git (to be updated)
  • Configure ASUS WL-330gE Wireless AP
  • Power it on. (Power bank or any other USB power source)
  • Wireless connect Nexus 7 to AP.
  • Reserve IP address for Nexus 7 MAC address
  • Connect tablets or smartphones to Wireless AP.
  • Navigate to to start browsing.

Team: Ricky Cheng, Balaji V and Michelle Gruda

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