RACHEL Goes to Northwestern Guatemala

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Try to picture yourself without access to the Internet. The web of sites and content have changed our lives dramatically. When we need to stay informed, we can just Google a topic and voila. Not everyone on Planet Earth has the luxury of Google, though.

Students at the Maya Jaguar Center for Education and Development are used to innovation. They maintain sustainable gardens and go to classes in rooms lit by solar power. The latest innovation at Maya Jaguar is the introduction of RACHEL, a Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning. Internet content difficult to access in the past is now a reality there.

RACHEL brings large but thoughtfully selected portions of the internet to regions and institutions that do not have affordable access to the internet via broadband.  I delivered a RACHEL server to Maya Jaguar early in August. Francisco Pablo is the senior technology instructor at Maya Jaguar. He and I worked together to show the other teachers how to navigate the RACHEL interface.

Maestro RACHEL screen

Francisco Demonstrates RACHEL

Teachers were encouraged to create their own sites on the server with content they upload that is specific to their classes. In the coming months, they will work on methods of helping students to be inquirers and critical users of the content they encounter on RACHEL.

Teachers Maestros Computers

Teachers Exploring RACHEL’s Possibilities

For me, it was gratifying to see the teachers’ excitement as they found materials on the server that could really enhance their teaching.  For some months, Alan Crawford, Frances Dixon, and I have been working on ways to bring simulations to the students.  Simulations provide a way to explore ideas and phenomena that can’t be visited and observed in the physical world (or at least not easily).

With content from the University of Colorado at Boulder’s PheT project installed on RACHEL, students can now explore atomic interactions,  create semi-conducting diodes, and learn the principles of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  All of this is available in Spanish, of course.

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Using RACHEL

The RACHEL server has proven so useful that Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala, the Foundation that sponsors the school and outreach programs, is now exploring the possibility of a second device. Two RACHEL servers would make it possible for each of the two main school buildings to have RACHEL availability all the time.  Want to help make that possible? Please visit https://www.adoptavillage.com/donate

Learn more about RACHEL here: https://worldpossible.org/

Adapted version cross-posted on Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala.

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Preserving Indigenous Language

Cultivating home languages in the classroom. 

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey, Alan N. Crawford, and Frances Dixon

On a mountaintop surrounded by clouds and rainforest, students gather for classes. The students here all came from the surrounding villages where Q’anjob’al, a Mayan language, is spoken.  The school serves students aged 12 to 18, and many go on to university. At times, students have even been known to inflate their ages so they can attend; the desire to learn is that great.

 

 

The students at Maya Jaguar come to preserve their heritage as Mayans, to learn Spanish, and to bring the best of the world beyond their villages back home. Alumni from Maya Jaguar return to the villages as nurses and teachers.  Most of the teachers at the school speak Q’anjob’al and Spanish.

To read the entire article, please download Preserving Indigenous Language (click the link) or join the International Literacy Association to stay current with literacy topics and issues all year long.

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