First, I started with slates (small blackboards), then small whiteboards then pencil and paper and finally the glorious pen. The kids in Kenya however, have leapfrogged the primordial slate technology in all its forms to high tech high-end tablets, called BRCK Kio.
The BRCK Kio tablets just launched in Kenya and the technology is as transformative as can be.
“We are deploying a content-agonistic solution that allows us to deliver the relevant digital content that will improve the learning experience of millions of children across the continent”, BRCK CEO, Erik Hersman told techweez.
BRCK is the all-terrain internet router and backup power for the remotest and the most inaccessible regions of Africa. The goal, when BRCK launched in 2013, was to connect the more than 800 million Africans without internet and it’s already doing well in that department.
The BRCK Kio tablets however are an interesting build off of BRCK’s existing technology which it is launching under its latest division honing in on school-focused solutions, BRCK Education. The company launched the division last month appointing Nivi Mukherjee as the lead. Nivi still leads her edtech startup, e-Limu, that is digitizing Kenyan curriculums.
The tablets are designed to help train standard one students in Kenya and they maintain the same build quality BRCK is known for. Which is only natural because the tablets are going to be handled by kids who don’t care terribly for nifty gadgets they can’t chew on and maybe bathe in their spittle.
The BRCK Kio tab is a 7-inch tablet with regular Android internals but are fitted with hardware to withstand the harshest handling including a 70 cm drop on a hard paved floor. They are also dust and water resistant with IP42 certification. That’s a generous amount of insulation against damage. Unless a preschooler is hellbent on destroying the tab and with the proper equipment too.
A lot of bodies have been racing to develop a solution since the Kenyan government announced its Kshs. 17.5 billion dedicated fund towards deploying ICT devices for schools and creation of digital education content. Some of these included the MoI University in partnership with JKUAT, the University of Nairobi and Strathmore University through iLab Africa, according to a Techweez report.
The only problem was that solution from these bodies, of which one is locally designed laptops, did not factor in internet connectivity, power and double-plated titanium layer to prevent from curious preschooler hands.
The BRCK tablets, which retail at $99 per unit, feature inductive charging via the Kio Kits – multipurpose smart crates that the tablets come in. They are fitted with internet connectivity and cloud services managed by local cloud services provider, Angani.
The tablets will load up education content from Kenyatta University, Pearson, Intel-Education, e-Limu, KnowZone and e-Kitabu, according to TechWeez. And with its partnership with Chase Bank, Kenya, schools can get financed to get produce the Kio Kits, with 40 Kio tablets at KsHs 48,750 per month.
This is a thoughtful collection of existing technologies to solve specific local problems. Smart classrooms are not new in Africa by any stretch. Bridge International Academies have been deploying Nook e-readers synced to a universal database to teach students at its $6 a month private schools.
In Nigeria, Osun State, south west of the country’s capital gave out bespoke e-learning tablets called Opon Imo to its students in 2013 but little has been heard in terms of progress in actual learning bottomline in the state. It has however caught the attention of UNESCO who recently sought permission to recreate the tablet.
BRCK’s solution is an all-in-one, arguably the most transformative, thought-through solution capable of democratizing digital learning at the most formative learning stage of African students.
Image via: qz.com