Raspberry Pi, the heart of digital schools

The Raspberry Pi2, the cornerstone of the digital schools programme, is present in all of the structures we support in Africa. This mini-server, which remains unfamiliar to the public, enable all of the pupils in each school to access educational content without an internet connection. Q&A about the server.

Raspberry Foundation Orange

What’s a Raspberry Pi?

A Raspberry Pi is actually a single-board nano-computer. It is the size of a credit card and weighs less than 50 grams. It is a circuit board which is delivered bare, with no peripheral devices. That means it doesn’t have a case, a mouse, or a keyboard.
It was developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, and the first models were built in 2012. The initial version has undergone a series of changes, and the Raspberry Pi 2 was released in February 2015.

raspberry pi package
The packaging for the Raspberry Pi 2.
raspberry Pi 2
A Raspberry Pi 2.

What can you do with a Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi 2s offer virtually endless possibilities. They can be used as computers, servers, or media centres (to store music, pictures and films). In certain relatively rare cases, they are used for home automation or embedded systems.
As part of the digital schools programme, they are used as servers to host educational content for pupils to access off-line.

How are they used in the digital schools?

Each Raspberry Pi 2 is part of an educational kit sent to the schools, which also includes 50 tablets and a video projector. Before the kits are sent, the Raspberry Pi 2s are loaded with different programmes:

Ka Lite (an off-line version of the Khan Academy), Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Project Gutenberg and Edupi, a software program developed by the Orange Foundation. The idea is to provide the schools’ pupils with digital content in file format, with no need for an internet connection.
According to Luc Héripret, the Orange Foundation Director of Corporate Philanthropy for Africa, Raspberry Pi 2 servers are at the heart of the digital school programme: "All of the content is on the Raspberry Pis, the tablets are just used to read it. As a precaution, we provide two Raspberrys for each school in case the first one breaks down."

Luc Héripret Foundation Orange
Luc Héripret, Orange Foundation Director of Corporate Philanthropy for Africa, and a Raspberry Pi 2.

How are the Raspberry Pis delivered to the schools?

We don’t send the bare Raspberry Pi 2s to the schools. If we did, they would be totally unprotected, and while they are quite sturdy they can still be damaged by impacts or environmental factors like dust. As a precaution, we insert each of the Raspberry Pi 2s sent to the schools in a glass and aluminium case.
If you want to protect your equipment like we do, here’s how we fit a Raspberry Pi 2 in its protective case, and what the finished assembly looks like.

 

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