Nissan Bahar and Franky Imbesi are the inventors behind the Keepod, an 8 GB USB drive that contains its own operating system with complimentary apps all running on the Android OS. The issues these inventors are seeking to address are the connectivity concerns found with schools in the Global South. Schools strapped for cash often receive their computers as donations from schools and NGOs from the Global North. These computers are sometime sub-standard systems loaded with issues due to heavy usage. Keepod looks to overcome run-time and software issues by providing a sleek system that needs only be connected to a computer with a screen, keyboard, mouse and basic processor. The pair have hooked up with LiveInSlums an NGO that is operating in Mathare district of Nairobi to implement to Keepod in schools across the area.
The Keepod is certainly an interesting device that addresses a serious problem with hand-me-down and outdated laptops. By ignoring the need for an internal hard-drive, which only gets slower the longer it runs, the device is able to make the best of the components available. The operating system allows for simple apps, internet connectivity and for users to save their files securely. By offering individualized Keepods, each student will be able to plug into a computer anywhere and have access without having to worry about transferring files or even most viruses that plague discarded computers.
As Tony Roberts, formerly of Computer Aid International, notes, “in my experience, it’s always about how the people use the technology and not that technology itself as a magic bullet.” He’s correct to have concerns over the utility of the device as a learning tool. Schools still require computers for students to make use of the sticks and internet connectivity to make the most out of it. Designing learning applications that to suit the Keepod won’t be too challenging given the technology but ensuring that teachers know how to use these tools appropriately will necessitate a lot of investment. Also, as noted in the BBC article by Dan Simmons, the Keepod may suffer as its an easy item to pilfer or from parents selling them to compensate for their incomes.
However you look at it, the Keepod is a platform for connecting students in the Global South to the 21st century. At 7 dollars per Keepod, the group looks to sell the item for a 2 dollar profit, which is a reasonable price for a device with so much potential. While the educational deliverables may appear vague at the moment, we look forward to seeing how how people use this new technology.
What are your thoughts on the Keepod, is this the next best tool for helping schools leap forward or something else?