Off-grid education gives regions without internet access to content and learning tools

US-based charity project offers free web access to under-connected countries via a portable, solar-powered Wi-fi receiver

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 April, 2016, 6:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 April, 2016, 6:00am

Arguably more important than high-speed education is low-bandwidth learning applications for remote places.

Improving access to education in the off-grid world is a problem being addressed by New York-based charity Outernet, which aims to become “humanity’s public library” by providing free, unrestricted and uncensored web access for the entire planet.

Available to anyone with its portable, solar-powered Wi-fi receiver called Lighthouse, Outernet promises free internet from existing telecoms satellites, but is limited to 10 megabytes per person, per day. It’s only a one-way link – no uploads are possible – and it’s primarily designed to push Wikipedia, e-books and Teachers Without Borders resources to schools in remote places.

“Outernet is a project which tries to connect the less internet-connected countries and regions and to provide such places with content and learning tools,” says Dr Yuen Kin-sun at The Open University of Hong Kong who thinks it will be used by philanthropic organisations wanting to help less developed countries.

Massive open online courses are getting bigger as Hong Kong universities embrace the changes