ENGS 89/90 Reports

Project Advisor

Charles Sullivan

Instructor

Solomon Diamond and Rafe Steinhauer

Document Type

Report

Publication Date

2021

Abstract

Significance: Looma Education Corp. (LE) supports education development in rural Nepal by providing a device that delivers engaging educational content without requiring internet access or stable electricity. The all-in-one Looma box serves as an A/V system with an offline library of educational content in both English and Nepali. LE implemented its pilot program in 2019 and currently has a network of 13 schools. LE aims to extend its reach to 100 schools in rural Nepal, specifically schools which lack basic educational materials. Despite its successes, LE is unable to upscale its production to meet increasing demand. Without the significant improvements made in the Looma 2.0 design implemented by this project, LE would not be able to deliver the much-needed classroom technology at its desired scale.

Objectives: The main objectives of the project were to 1) increase manufacturing scalability, 2) increase reliability, and 3) increase user engagement. These objectives have been achieved in three ways. First, the enclosure was redesigned to increase manufacturability. Second, the hardware was redesigned to increase reliability by eliminating existing failure modes. Finally, the webcam software was implemented to increase engagement by providing users with a new feature that enables expanded learning modes in the classroom.

Innovation: There is no equivalent to Looma on the market. Other educational technology devices, like the SMART Board, are significantly more expensive and do not offer built-in education libraries without internet access. Looma is a highly effective solution to the education accessibility issue in rural Nepal, but it needs to be better implemented. To address the first objective of increasing Looma’s manufacturability, the ENGS 89/90 team executed a plan to redesign the highly unscalable wooden enclosure into a sheet metal enclosure that is scalable for production. On the electronics design, the team implemented new features that promote the overall system reliability and made progress in reducing assembly complexity for future design integrations. To address the objective of increasing Looma’s user interactivity, the team implemented a user-requested webcam feature. This gives the students further opportunities for self-expression, by recording presentations and performances, and further enables teachers to be more creative in producing custom lessons catered to their school and community.

Approach: From the onset, the team divided into sub-groups to address the enclosure, electronics and software components of the project. The enclosure and electronics team will deliver a solution based on quantitative specs formulated based on current benchmarks, user needs, and the existing solution space and iteratively improve the design based on prototype test results. Similarly, the software team will develop their programs by separating the code into the smallest functional blocks possible and perform robust testing and solicit user feedback at each stage.

Impact: Looma has transformed education in different towns of rural Nepal and the community has directly observed positive changes in student outcomes. Specifically, parents and teachers in Nepal interviewed by the team reported that students are now excited about school. Furthermore, the audio and visual content Looma provides not only increases literacy among students but also promotes more active participation in class. Professor Sienna Craig, an expert on Nepal, predicts that the updated device will have benefits beyond education as well, citing the cultural value of the webcam as a tool to preserve and share the hundreds of different languages spoken in the country. Looma is more than just a box with a projector, computer, and speaker. It delivers a classroom experience on par with ones in developed cities, in rural areas that lack the most essential resources. The goal of this project was to improve upon and extend the reach of the Looma educational experience in order to provide an enriching and engaging education to even more schools in rural Nepal.

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Restricted: Campus/Dartmouth Community Only Access

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Available to Dartmouth community via local IP address.

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