Worldreader.org is a not-for-profit organization which aims to make books available to all in the developing world, with the help of e-reader technology. We believe that e-readers can become the least expensive and fastest way for students and families to have access to books in the developing world, and have an impact similar to that of mobile phones.
E-readers are positively disruptive to the logistical challenges of transporting low value paper books, but are minimally disruptive in the classroom where teachers and students need little instruction and training to share in their benefits.
We are running trials to develop expertise in how e-readers can be used and deployed in Ghana and other parts of the world, and are raising funds to subsidize the gap between the cost of the device and the price governments are willing to pay in the short-term, with the goal of creating a virtuous cycle in the long term that continues to drive down costs and drive up access to an ever-wider variety of books.
We have just finished a report on the initial trial we performed with e-readers at the OrphanAid Africa School in Ayenyah near Accra, Ghana. This was the first ever trial of e-readers performed in an educational context in the developing world. Over and above the findings published in the report we witnessed kids reading more than they had ever before, knowing they could get another book immediately instead of waiting six months for a book which may never arrive.
Our challenges? There remains a lot to do to demonstrate that the idea works at scale, as well as to adapt the device and overall system to the developing world.
I am back down to Ghana to push forward the planning for extended trails of eReaders in Ghanaian schools. We have the agreement of the Ministry of Education in Ghana who will be actively supporting us and we look forward to learning more in the process of analyzing the impact that e-readers have in the classroom, among students and teachers and the outcomes in terms of learning.
We are sharing are learnings as we go and would very much like to get your feedback on the report.
Colin McElwee is the Co-Founder of Worldreader.org