We are busily constructing software products (see our
) that will make a difference. On this page you can get a glimpse of our innovations.
awareNet Universe is a social networking product for education, that is specially adapted to African conditions, where Internet costs can prohibit the use of social networking in teaching. This will be a new product in the market.
It will consist of:
*awareNet - the awareNet software system, which is unique in its adaptation to mesh networks.
*awareNet - the social network with the same name as the software, which is unique in its focus on schools that serve underprivileged and impoverished (township) communities.
*awareNet Content - a content package comprising around 20 DVDs of educational content.
*awareNet Offline - a board game which facilitates learning without any electronics.
awareNet (the software) is specially adapted to use in mesh networks, resulting in a) cost-savings, b) new teaching methods to enhance learning. For a detailed description of the invention, we refer to our paper "awareNet: The system design of a social networking software for disadvantaged South African
schools", that was presented at the 2010 Annual Conference of the South African Institute of Computer Scientists and Information Technologists (SAICSIT).
awareNet has been in intensive use in a mesh network in Grahamstown since late 2009, and has been presented at several conferences for technologists and educators, including SAICSIT 2010 and eLearning Africa 2011. It was very well received by experts at these forums. We are currently evaluating data to prove our observation that use of awareNet can help awaken learners interest in school and MST subjects.
The idea of awareNet arose from observations made in 2007/2008 in the SELF Solar Schools Project (Nkwalini), that rural teachers who have a mesh network at their disposal, have no time to offer their learners computer lessons. So a mesh-enabled invention is required to allow our ultimate customers (the learners) to make use of resources that are being offered to them. In this sense, the invention is also technology driven, as some of the functionality is restricted by technology options in the offline mode of working. The invention also fills a gap in the market. We evaluated several social networking before embarking on this voyage and found no social networking products that are able to create a single virtual social network over a multiplicity of servers, which can operate in offline mode. awareNet servers are usually synchronised in batch mode (late at night) to save on Internet costs, but they can also be set to synchronise weekly, or not at all during holidays.
awareNet Content is an educational content library including WikiBooks, Khan Academy videos, MindSet videos, etc. which are integrated with awareNet for schools that have limited or no Internet connection but do have a computer lab. There are many such schools in South Africa. awareNet Content allows learners to use education materials within a social context - they can comment on videos they have watched, vote for them and start projects around the content, adding their own reflections, photographs multimedia and ideas, working collaboratively with other learners.