RACHEL is an Intranet Superhero

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Access to the internet is almost the same as having access to air or water for students in our schools.  Often, that is the case, but not always.  What do you do if you have students who are eager to learn about the world beyond their schoolhouse doors but the internet is expensive or non-existent?

Today, as ubiquitous as internet access seems, internet penetration has not reached many parts of the planet.  Even when it is possible to access the internet via satellite connections, the cost is very high and the speed is very slow.  There is, however, a solution.

That solution is RACHEL, an acronym that stands for Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and LearningRACHEL is a server with open-source software and content that delivers large sections of the internet to a school or other educational organization.  Schools do not need access to the internet for RACHEL to work.  Content modules from Khan Academy, Wikibooks, MedLine, and much more to the school site.  Once installed, students and teachers can access simulations, learning games, and the entire Wikipedia for a given language (as of the date it was downloaded).

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Some expertise is required to install RACHEL.  Installers will need to be able to plug in the power unit to an electrical outlet and then push a button.  Yep, that’s it. Users who can connect to a wifi connection will be able to connect to RACHEL.

The RACHEL unit you see in the photo above is going to Central America next week to provide internet content to some incredibly talented students. They do have internet access, but it comes at high cost via satellite.  RACHEL will relieve the pressure on the available bandwidth so that more students can use the content.  I will post more about this project once the students meet RACHEL.

 

 

 

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