“Think Different”, the two words made famous by Apple under the leadership of the late Steve Jobs in advertising campaign back in 1997 have never jumped into active memory as they did when the team at Ushahidi launched BRCK Education with Nivi Mukherjee as the head of the new division.
The jubilee government had education on it transformative election agenda and the road to Vision2030 would be catalyzed by turning education on top of its head and going digital. The budget estimates for this run into the billions of shillings with the digital dividend projected at several factors of that.
Tethered thinking saw organizations with vested interest, work simply with what is available in the market at face value. Partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) made the most sense but middlemen drove up prices. Some even opted to setup manufacturing plants. Everyone seemed focused on the laptop supply side of what is a massive ecosystem.
A different path
Problems are solved in many different ways but it is always smarter to increase strategic odds at tackling a problem by ensuring that you have as many parts of the solution matrix under your control or easily addressable. That is the core of solution architecture.
The primary consumer at scale, for whom the benefits of digital education will be felt most, is the rural pupil. Despite the government’s best intentions at rural electrification it will take years to achieve universal coverage. The structure of our learning also does not require 100% digital engagement but that learning is augmented by technology. Therefore mobility is key to ensure sharing of resources is easy. Form factor must rank high due the nature of interactions by the target audience and security considered given that most schools have basic facilities.
Here is how the KioKit checks all the boxes on the solution matrix. The Brck is a rugged WiFi router with an on-board battery plus storage capable of connecting 50 devices with content caching in the expected event of power and connectivity outage. The Kio tablet is designed for use by children and has multimedia capabilities. Ruggedized for a longer life span, they are also locked to discourage theft, with the design also making it stand out. Controls for a connected world are also inbuilt to ensure child safety. These two main devices; one wireless router and up to 40 tablets are nested into a mobile unit, hence the “kit”. The case is hardened, water resistant and designed to charge the entire system via a single plug. The back-end also runs on local cloud infrastructure by service provider Angani and the cost benefits of this are immense especially in light of content streaming and syncing via mobile data or other available connectivity options.
As with all innovation, it seems obvious after the fact.