IT learning onboard a bus

Just got home from a week-long stint in Davao del Sur, where our project launched an Internet bus.

It’s actually the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) “Mobile IT Classroom”, which has been around for three or four years now. The bus is maintained by the DOST Science Education Institute and primarily used for elementary and high school students. The bus is equipped with 15 notebook computers, audiovisual equipment, and materials to teach science and mathematics.

The thing is, it doesn’t have a connection to the internet. And that’s where my project, the Open Academy for Philippine Agriculture, came in. We provide internet connection to the IT bus when we use it for training agricultural extension workers (AEWs).

In a “trial” run last August in Davao del Sur, we used the bus to teach agricultural extension workers on the use of computers and the internet. The training was as basic as learning how to use the mouse (yes!) to creating email accounts and using instant messaging. The extension workers were also taught how to browse agriculture-related websites like the Pinoy Farmers Internet and the Rice Knowledge Bank of the International Rice Research Institute.

For the internet connection during the August training, the bus was parked beside an internet cafe, where a WiFi access point was set up. Each notebook was equipped with a WiFI card to connect to the internet cafe’s LAN.

Last week, we provided PLDT WeROAM cards to the notebook computers for internet connectivity. This time, the participants were members of two farmers cooperatives in Davao del Sur. The Open Academy also provided them a PC with a free WeROAM account for one-year.

As for the perfomance, the WeROAM connection is sometimes a tad bit slow (in the IT bus, we peaked at around 33 kbps only). But in places where there are no telephone lines and no other facilities to connect to the internet, WeROAM will do just fine. Aside from the two farmers cooperatives in Davao del Sur, another site in Agusan will also be connected to the internet using WeROAM.

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  • awesome idea

  • Sweet! Congratulations sa inyong project!

    In QC, there’s the COW (computers on wheels) which I saw at the Panibagong Paraan expo two years ago (? has it been that long?) .

    And then there was a Smart (telco) Internet Cafe on wheels that I heard about almost 4 months ago. … hmmm… nasan na ba yung mga trucks na iyon?


    ka edong

  • Actually, the IT bus in Mindanao is just one of six (I think, as of last count) such buses that DOST-SEI has. Unfortunately, they were unable to maximize the buses because of high maintenance costs. The Davao del Sur bus is, by far, the most actively used.

    It costs around Php5,000 a day to rent the bus, which SEI is maintaining through a non-profit foundation. The rental includes a tech guy and the driver, but doesn’t include the fuel, which we had to shoulder, too.

    Initiatives like these are good, but the problem is — as always — sustainability. We’re hoping to use the other buses (which are spread out all over the country) as well: provide them with internet connection (either through WiFi or WeROAM {a “possible” sponsorship by PLDT?}) then have them roam the countryside for an agri-IT roadshow.