ILS International
Equipping our pioneers for the new frontiers

Learning Resource Centers (LRCs) and the "Digital Divide"

During the past thirty years there has been a tremendous revolution going on -- initially due to the invention and development of personal computers, later portable computers and various types of hand held devices -- i.e. Palm Pilots, Pocket PC's and now cell phones that can capture and send high resolution pictures.  However, an even greater revolution is taking place due to the internet.  These inventions are now totally changing how we access information, do our buying and banking.  While these new technologies have and are causing tremendous changes or "progress", many areas of the world still do not even have electricity, let alone acess to a telephone line or internet service provider (ISP). 

The Digital Divide -- As a result, many, if not most of the world's miniority peoples are facing a tremendous "digital divide" that is separating them even further from the rest of the world.  In order to help overcome these problems ILS International is developing a number of new portable systems and tools that can now operate independent of the AC power grid, phone lines or Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Learning Resource Centers (LRCs) -- ILS is encouraging the establishment of Learning Resource Centers or LRCs. LRCs can be a very efficient and effective way for rural communities to start bridging the "digital divide". A LRC may be as simple as one or two laptop computers located in a waiting room of a remote hospital, school or airport, or a battery powered "wireless" hot spot in a local coffee shop, book store or restaurant. These centers may be a part of a hospital, public or private school, part of a college or seminary, or part of an NGO (Non Government Organization) -- i.e. World Health Organization - WHO, World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF etc., or part of a PVO (Private Volunteer Organization) i.e. Peace Corps, OXFAM, World Vision, etc. A Learning Resource Center may also be part of a network of rural Community Learning Resource Centers (CLRCs) located throughout a region, province or nation. Thanks to a number of new advances in portable power technologies and satellite technologies these centers can now be networked to each other, even in very remote locations that have no reliable electricity, no phone line connection and no local internet service provider (ISP).  

Turning Wireless WiFi "Hot Spots" into Learning Resource Centers -- In terms of the western world, think of a Learning Resource Center as a location that contains one or more of the following components:

A mini Starbuck's (coffee shop) -- where you can come and socialize over a cup of coffe while surfing the web or downloading your latest e-mail.

* A mini Kinko's -- where you can have access to "office equipment" for your personal or business needs
* A Cyber Cafe -- a wireless "hot zone" where you can access both e-mail and the internet on your laptop, pocket Palm or Pocket PC or the Cyber Cafe's equipment. 

* A mini Library/Store -- where you can have access to hundreds of books in your "own language". Each of these books, manuals, construction plans and learning modules being developed ILS International. This new series of "Portable CD-ROM Libraries" that will later be available in four different formats: 

  1. Part of the "wireless library" within the Learning Resource Center
  2. Available via the Internet -- for those with access to the Internet in larger centers or schools in the country
  3. As part of the Portable Library CD-ROM's available at the Learning Resource Centers
  4. Available for purchase for your own personal use or for your community or school "back home"

Local publishing house center -- where local authors and trainers come together to network and contextualize or localize life crucial information for field testing and dissemination into the local languages of the region.  

Portable Libraries -- Each of the LRCs will house battery powered PC notebooks and Pocket PCs and ILS International's newly developing "Portable Libraries". Each portable library, contained on a CD-ROM or DVD disk, will contain 30-100 key books, manuals, construction plans, and even learning modules and related "certificate courses" will focus on a specific topic of "life crucial information". All of the equipment in a LRC is designed to be powered by small rechargeable AA batteries that can be charged either by AC energy (110, 220 or 240 volt), a gas or diesel generator or by very economical solar panels. Think of these LRCs as both a learning center and a local curriculum lab -- a place where both local villagers and local educators can come together to gain access to life crucial information and then, as a team, adapt and localize these materials into the local languages of an area in four vital areas of personal and community development: mental, physical, spiritual and social development. 

Sustainable Village Development -- The long range goal for each of the LRCs or is "transformation" -- the transformation of individuals, families, communities and nations through the development and application of life crucial information. Each of the CD-ROM topics (i.e. water/sanitation, food/agriculture, health/medicine, shelter/housing, energy/fuel, etc.) will also have its own companion web site that that will be used for collaboration, the sharing of new ideas and resources, and extensive links to hundreds of other materials. Each of the LRCs will be "wireless" -- which will be made possible through a portable cell phone connection and in some areas through a small 18 inch satellite dish. As a result, these learning/resouces centers can be set up in any area of the world, no mattter how remote, in a matter of minutes and will not even require a telephone line or hard wire access to a local internet access provider (ISP). The entire system, including a PC or MAC notebook and printer fits into a small briefcase and weigh less then 25 pounds.

Excellent Learning Resource Center Training Handbook -- We recently came across an exellent 160 page training handbook on how to set up and maintain a rural learning resource center.  The link below will give you immediate access to the entire book! 

Sharing Knowledge Handbook 2 (2004)  /  by Kingo J. Mchombu

  Sharing Knowledge Cover

Information is an important resource for human development. Limited access to information and knowledge prevents the full use and potential growth of intelligence in rural people. Sharing Knowledge is a handbook written by Dr. Kingo Mchombu for men and women working in villages, towns and rural areas who wish to transform their communities through information sharing. The author is the Head of the Department of Information and Communication Studies at the University of Namibia and a leading scholar on information and rural development. Sharing Knowledge is published by the Oxfam Horn of Africa Capacity Building Program with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

To Download a Portable Document File (PDF) Version of the Handbook click here.
(PDF/386 kb)
You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this excellent 160 page handbook.