Peace Corps Volunteers in the field have access to digital tools and devices, but often (very) limited connectivity (either in infrastructure or in prohibitive costs). The Peace Corps in-a-Box project puts all of these digital resources in one place for easy retrieval and downloading – as USB documents, or on a portable low-cost computer like the Raspberry Pi.
These efforts to gather digital resources and distribute them by hand might seem antiquated to many—and yet it’s by far the best way to ensure that Volunteers in the field have updated virus-protections, useful software for education initiatives with their students and local youth, and the digital resources of Peace Corps over the years that include manuals, toolkits, and more.
The ‘box’ (not a physical box) is comprised of three distinct but related projects:
- a Flash Drive Toolkit—which holds up-to-date software for PC, Mac, and Linux computers;
- a Mobile Education Server with educational content for use in the classroom; and
- the Peace Corps Vault—a collection of Peace Corps-related documentation, manuals, articles, and media.
Just as we support Volunteers with medical kits, water filters, mosquito nets, and Peace Corps manuals on critical skills and approaches, we must also support them with digital tools and resources.
Many posts, programs, and Volunteer committees are already doing this – providing valuable resources via USB drives distributed to Volunteers at various times during their service. While many of the resources and documents loaded onto these drives are useful to all Volunteers in all sectors, the process of collecting, sorting, transferring, and distributing these drives is re-invented many times over.
The Peace Corps Flash Drive Toolkit helps Volunteers by providing a standardized baseline of resources – providing updated virus protection software, educational games for youth, Peace Corps recipe books, and productivity applications – all on a single drive that can be copied, customized, and distributed.
The Mobile Education Server is a digital library of educational resources and lessons that is accessed via a local WiFi hotspot.
The mobile education server uses free and open educational resources that are optimized for offline environments. The server is also designed to be used by non-technical experts, and usability is a top priority at all stages of deployment.
The Peace Corps Vault is the concerted effort to standardize a library of useful resources for Volunteers in every sector and region and across a wide array of possible outcomes.
The ‘Vault’ comprises digitally stored documents, videos, audio, and images.
The materials are not meant to be exhaustive, given the emphasis on storage and portability of the folder-system.
Items currently included in the Vault:
- Annual Reports (produced by PC/Washington)
- Congressional Budget Justifications (produced by PC/Washington)
- Peace Corps Times, Volunteer, and Peace Corps News publications (produced by PC/Washington)
- Peace Corps Press Releases (produced by PC/Washington)
- Peace Corps Press Clips (collected by PC/Washington, various sources)
- Historically-relevant Documents (these are things like “A Towering Task”, the text of the “Peace Corps Act”, etc.) (various sources)
- Peace Corps Manuals (produced by PC/Washington, various posts)
- Open academic research papers (various sources)
- Significant news articles and opinions related to Peace Corps (various sources)
- Subject-specific materials, such as ICT4D (as a trial, various sources)
- Peace Corps Cookbooks
- WorldView magazine (produced by NPCA)