How do I qualify for a Teacher in a Box?
We want each and every deployment to achieve good outcomes as would be expected by computer donors and our volunteers. We do this by ensuring that each deployment is overseen by a bona fide not-for-profit organisation or Rotary club and that documentation is collected to support the deployment. Please refer to the Customer MOU and Information Gathering flowchart under Resources/Reference Materials.
What do I get when I buy Teacher in a Box?
A repurposed laptop computer which acts as a Teacher in a Box server and comes pre-loaded with a HUGE range of educational content, a router configured to create the LAN (local area network) and an instruction manual. On-line training will be arranged at the time of collection. At this stage we have no plans to supply the other components that you may need for your deployment such as a projector, Wi-Fi devices or headphones but we are happy to advise. They can usually be bought in the country of deployment.
What subjects and year levels does the content of Teacher In a Box cover?
Teacher in a Box holds an enormous range of academic materials from illustrated story books for young children right through to university level in maths and science and a range of other topics. There is also a huge range of community development materials and training materials on topics such as agriculture, environment, medical, sanitation and water management as well as ideas to excite those with an entrepreneurial bent. Click on the “Resources” tab to check it out online.
How many devices can Teacher in a Box support at the same time?
Difficult to say as it really depends on the types of materials that are being accessed via Wi-Fi. Story Books and text materials uses up very little but lots of students playing videos at the same time will max out the system. We are currently experimenting with larger capacity routers as an option.
Can it be connected to an existing wired network?
Yes. Just cable it in through the network switch.
How wide is the network range?
Teacher in a Box has been tested to a range of 100 metres with line of sight to the router. The actual range will depend on the types and quantity of materials that it needs to pass through. It is possible to increase the range using an additional router as a signal booster or by setting up a wired connection. Another option is to just purchase a second TIB server. We are currently experimenting with larger capacity routers.
What languages does it come in?
There are lots of storybooks in languages other than English and we are happy to include additional resources specific to the region if there are any available. The vast amount of the content, including the menus, is in English and so it is necessary for someone at the school to have a working knowledge of English to help teachers find the materials.
Want to help by providing translations? Register with our partners at Learning Equality https://learningequality.org/translate/
What sort of projector is suitable?
Check your Teacher in a Box server for a VGA or an HDMI connector, or both.
The new LED style projectors come in small sizes, are cheap and easy to transport, use very little power and give a long life, however many are too low powered to be seen in a room that has not been darkened. We have been advised that projectors must have a rating of at least 4,000 ANSI lumens (not lumens which is a different measure) to be at all effective in a classroom. The brighter the classroom’s natural environment, the higher the brightness rating of the projector needs to be.
A better all-round option may be a low powered TV which can be purchased locally.
What sort of speakers should I get?
Many projectors come with built-in speakers that may be sufficient otherwise any USB powered computer speakers are suitable.
Do I need to have any specialised IT knowledge to deploy it?
No. All the hard work has been done for you. A training video (17 minutes) is now available on our website under Resources. There is also an online test which is designed to re-enforce what people have learnt through the video. We require that at least one person, preferably more, completes the test for each location prior to deployment.
A copy of the training video is also installed on Teacher in a Box to allow users to access it locally.
Does it work with Apple and Android products?
Yes, Teacher in a Box can be accessed via any type of Wi-Fi device including smart phones.
Some legacy issues have been found with new smart phones and tablets that no longer support some of the Apps but thankfully very few of the TIB resources are affected.
How long can Teacher in a Box operate without power?
You should expect at least an hour but it really depends on the type of computer as higher capacity computers will use up the battery time faster.
Each battery is checked as part of our quality assurance process and is replaced if shown to have a capacity of less than 70%. While this is a good indicator of quality it is not an exact science as you will see.
Modern laptops use Lithium Ion batteries and the life of these batteries can be extended by topping them up regularly and not letting the battery go below 20%, except in rare circumstances. The problem with regular shallow discharges is they can cause the laptop to show wrong estimates for battery health.
Important notes: Never leave the battery completely discharged and never leave the laptop in a hot car.
Can Teacher in a Box run on solar?
Absolutely!! You will find people in the deployment country who are very experienced in setting up low-cost solar systems. Use your local contacts and shop around.
Travelling with TIB – Airline Luggage Restrictions?
Which Countries has it already been deployed to?
Cambodia, DR Congo, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Nauru, Nepal, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Timor Leste, Uganda, Vanuatu, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
What about remote Australian communities?
We would love Teacher in a Box to be taken up by remote Australia and would be happy to work with representatives of the community to include Indigenous language and other cultural content as well. As always, new materials must be free of copyright, licensed under creative commons or permission must be given by the copyright owner for us to use it.
While we continue developing and building Teacher in a Box for the greater good, we need others, better placed than us, to help us expand into new territory.
How do I know that my donated computer has been safely erased?
Include your name and email address with your donated computer and we can send you a copy of the erasure certificate for your records. We use Active@ KillDisk data erasure software on all donated computers. Hard drives that cannot be successfully erased for what ever reason are physically destroyed.
How often is Teacher in a Box updated?
If you see on our website that there are a lot of new materials appearing on Teacher in a Box then you may chose to buy an updated SSD and swap it over for the one in your server.
The Arusha Secondary Day School, Tanzania. The Rotarian’s name is James Mepham from the Rotary Club of Warrnambool Central. Photos by Dr Louise North.