<aside> 💡 This is a brain writing of it, I will restructure it and rewrite it with visuals and some animations maybe :) Would like comments on core arguments and also suggestions of more arguments for and against the platforms.
In the last few months as we engage with the groups of Garima girls and Mirzapur, we have come to realize the importance of not only providing internet connected devices in the community but also equally important, to provide the right kind of devices.
something about what we trying to do, safe spaces, digital literacy etc
Traditionally we have two off the shelves options: 1. Cheap Smartphone/Tablet and 2. Cheap Laptops, While these options are readily available and familiar in the low literate context, they often come with their own limitations in a context like ours.
On a practical level, Smartphones are inherently personal devices which make them difficult to share across groups of students in an educational setting, there are certain social regulations and stigmas around who and how they can use smartphones especially for young girls, A smartphone is further more a very portable but limited platform in terms of its flexibility for more complex and custom tasks, like perhaps down the line the girls want to print something or learn how to type, smartphone becomes rather limited in that sense. Perhaps the biggest issue with smartphone is that it can not be used to create new technologies itself, You cannot (practically) code on it or connect a wide variety of peripherals for your use.
Some of these issues are alleviated by cheap laptops at the expense of portability and ease of use. Laptops make a better device to use in groups and share, also tinker to an extent. Although laptops have their own social limitations and an inherit value system attached as an exclusive, 'expensive', 'serious' devices which can hinder the ability to play and experiment for the learners
I can put a venn diagram sort of things showing where Webinar Pi Stands
Both of these solutions come from a mindset of digital devices being a black box, There is an implied hierarchy of the technology and its users, where the user can only learn how to best make use of it without being able to understand how things function underhood. Digital literacy cannot happen without transparency and knowledge of how these devices work. Using a closed platform fails to give the learners ability to imagine new possibilities.
Our goal with the project is not to just make the girls better users of existing services but also enable them to question existing uses, imagine new ways of using technology and learn how to play with technology to do what probably no one had done before.
The values like play, tinkering, openness and access become important for the platform we want to chose for the girls, Over last few months we have been playing with such one platform, We call it the WebinarPI.
A visual of what Webinar PI might look like, different forms
Webinar PI is a collection of devices and services we have been developing over the open source Raspberry Pi platform. The webinar Pi much like the platform its based on is meant to be hacked, played and experimented with. Webinar PI allows the girls to not only do everything they could do on smartphones or laptops but it also allows them to think of different ways in which a digital device can exist, It can take form of a small box which they carry around and connect to a TV or projector to learn together or It can be made into a simple laptop for personal use down the line it can also be used to teach the girls about programming, electronics and robotics if that's what they want to do.
visual of someone using webinar Pi
Altough admittedly the Webinar Pi setup can appear less polished and little intimidating than ready to use solutions, our field work in some contexts have revealed that members of low literate communities find themselves more comfortable with using the PI as it does not come with any pre-existing social stigmas around its ownership and usage, also it gives the learners more confidence as they feel they truly understand how it works, there is a sense of control over the device.
something about how it helps us in our missions and activities
the mirzapur document