LumenEd is a social venture founded in 2013 by five college students. Our mission is to connect classrooms around the world. We give students a platform to share their ideas and learn about new cultures directly from students their own age.
The Bright Orange Box
The Bright Orange Box is a smart projector designed to bridge a gap for classrooms without internet or reliable electricity. It's an excellent tool for teachers, especially those that have never had access to multimedia content. It also allows us to connect classrooms around the world through our Video Pen Pal Program.
Bright and loud enough for the whole classroom
The device can play digital content for a whole classroom. We combined a 500 lumen DLP projector with 8W stereo speakers.
The internal battery provides 2+ hours of uninterrupted playback at maximum brightness. The Box can be charged from a traditional wall outlet or using a portable solar-charging unit.
3G and Wi-Fi connected
A dedicated 3G connection in the box allows any classroom to access the internet. This provides a unique opportunity for the 90% of classrooms without internet in developing countries.
Any multimedia content
The Box plays a variety of multimedia formats including videos, pictures, music and PDFs. A custom Android interface on a 5" touch display makes navigating content easy.
Video recording and sharing
With a video camera on the back, the box allows teachers to record and share videos. This means any classroom can participate in our Video Pen Pal Program.
The Video Pen Pal Program
We wanted to be able to connect classrooms anywhere in a world in a meaningful way. We developed a weekly video exchange called the Video Pen Pal Program. Through short and simple videos, classrooms gain insight into each other's lives and explore cultural similarities and differences. Students are challenged to collaborate and find their own unique voices.
How it works
We developed a mobile app that allows teachers to record and edit short videos and send them to their partner's classroom. We create the connection between the two classrooms and process and share the videos. This allows teachers to focus on the program and less on management.
Who we connect
We are pairing classrooms in the US with low income classrooms in India. Classrooms in the US communicate with their Pen Pals via our web platform and mobile app. Indian classrooms receive a Bright Orange Box which handles both video recording and playback.
Video: Joanna and Anurag, two Teach for India Fellows, talk about their experiences with the Box and Video Pen Pal Program.
Our Progress So Far
Last summer we worked with Teach for India classrooms in New Delhi, India to deploy six prototypes of the Bright Orange Box. We also ran our Video Pen-Pal Program for six months between five of these classrooms and five US classrooms in NY, MI, IL, OH and DC. The feedback allowed us to refine the Pen Pal Program and the Bright Orange Box. The enthusiastic response encouraged us to pursue this full time.
The Bright Orange Box is now on its third iteration. We are working with developers and engineers to create a more robust Bright Orange Box and a unified software experience. We have established relations with leading DLP projector manufacturers and are developing 75 units in-house to deploy for the next academic school year.
We have partnered with Teach for India, an NGO that puts passionate teachers in low income schools. We have also taken steps with SEED Project, Asha for Education and USAID to provide Boxes for schools and community health workers in remote areas.
What We Need
The seven prototypes built last summer were based on the Raspberry Pi. We are now transitioning to an Android platform and preparing for manufacturing. We need your help to finish both hardware and software development.
We are expanding to 100 classrooms across New Delhi and the US for the 2015-2016 school year. There will also be pilots in Senegal and Ghana. Despite additional demand for our device and program, we're limiting ourselves to ensure a good experience for all teachers and students involved.
An Exciting Future
India is just the beginning. If the next year is successful we plan on expanding to more countries. With increased scale the Bright Orange Box will become an even more affordable technology for classrooms.
The Video Pen Pal Program simplifies international classroom networking to an app experience. We believe that the educational opportunities in this realm have been largely unexplored. Combined with our hardware, this network can reach classrooms anywhere in the world.
Credits: "Upbeat Bossa Ukulele" by Seastock, and film - Priyali Soota
Risks and challenges
We are planning to start the Video Pen Pal Program in September, when schools reopen after the summer. This means we need to deploy the the Boxes in the Indian classrooms by July. This is a tight window to finish the units but we have already begun development with our manufacturer and are taking availability into account when selecting components.
Logistical issues could also delay the program. These include delays with shipping and customs as well as training sessions for teachers. Our pilot program last summer gave us experience dealing with these kinds of logistical issues, so we are confident we will resolve them.
We also have good relations with our partner organizations and schools. Many have worked with us in the past and have had great experiences.
Our team is committed to working on this project full-time next year. We have built experience with hardware and software development, working with teachers, schools and organizations. We are also backed by a growing network of advisers and collaborators with extensive experience in education technology.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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