Portable education kit wins Globe pitching competition

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Monday, September 1, 2014

THE WINNING TEAM. Skye Male (3rd from left), Carmela David (middle), Miguel Bermundo (2nd from right) together with Globe President and CEO Ernest Cu (right), Globe Chief Human Resource Officer Renato Jiao (left), and Globe VP for Product Management Pebbles Sy-Manalang (2nd from left). (Contributed photo)


HOW can you bring Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to far flung schools which do not have electricity? This is a problem that a group of community-oriented and tech-savvy individuals is trying to solve using a low-cost and energy-efficient mobile learning kit.

Called the School In A Box (SIAB), the handy and affordable equipment that runs on a motorcycle battery, intends to make learning fun and interesting for students by allowing video and audio materials to be played before the whole class, give teachers and students an opportunity to do research online, and even serve as a base platform to support modular tools for core subjects like Science and Math.

SIAB was an innovation of learning advocate Miguel Bermundo and electrical engineer Nikko Torcita, who are helping schools explore creative ways of teaching through simple technology which only costs about P15,000 per package. Bermundo was later on joined by Carmela David and Skye Male who are both immersed in various corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects of Globe.

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“Rural public schools often face learning challenges due to shortage of educational tools and in some instances, absence of electricity. Students, on the other hand, usually have a hard time absorbing the lessons, resulting in poor performance. We need a solution that can help bring 21st century learning to these kids and create for them a world of possibilities and I’m proud of our CSR team for doing their part in making this a reality,” said Fernando Esguerra, Globe CSR Director.

Globe President and CEO Ernest L. Cu said he was impressed by the idea. “Bringing technology to the rural areas to save the nation is a very good move. This shows that innovation can come from any sector, even from CSR.”

SIAB does not intend to reinvent the wheel. Rather, it uses very common materials such as a pair of PC speakers, basic keyboard, a mouse, and a credit card-sized computer mainframe called Raspberry Pi packed inside a hard, water-proof plastic case.

The computer uses an SD card as its hard drive and comes with an iPhone-sized projector for video engagements. It comes with a 17-amp motorcycle battery that can keep the computer running constantly for up to eight hours. An optional Globe Tattoo stick can also be inserted in the USB port for wireless internet surfing while a laser-cut acrylic microscope setup may be hooked with a smartphone to provide amplified views of specimens.

SIAB bested 17 other entries presented at the iSpark pitching competition handled by Globe Labs to encourage employees unleash their creativity.

Similar to other international hackathons that Globe Labs organized, iSpark encourages employees to form groups, prepare their hack concept, make it happen and pitch their app.

Winning second and third place are Globe Carpool of CB Strategy and Corporate Development and AutoQueue of Digital Media, respectively.

iSpark is part one of the activities at the Globe Telecom’s innovation month. (PR)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 02, 2014.

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