RACHEL (Remote Areas Community Hotspots for Education and Learning) is a Linux distro designed to be used with a Raspberry Pi. The Pi is then used as a server in computer classrooms with bad or no Internet connections. Although RACHEL is very similar to the stock Raspbian distribution, itÂ also sets up a web server and a database automatically, and packs a large amount of educational and scientific information for students and educators.
RACHEL was created by WorldPossible.org to bring educational resources to remote locations where Internet connections are not all that reliable or non-existent. As a Raspberry Pi only costs about USD 35 (and needy schools can get it even cheaper), and the operating system, web server, and content are all free, the combination of both makes RACHEL ideal for institutions with few resources. Connected to the school network or a cheap wireless router, RACHEL can serve content to desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and phones.
The base distro comes with an offline version of Wikipedia, containing over 6,000 articles on art, science, engineering and everyday life. It also contains nearly 3,000 videos from Khan academy on math, science and engineering; a very complete set of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) textbooks; literally thousands of works of literature from the Gutenberg Project; all the OLPC educational packages; and much more.
As the material supplied to students in remote areas has to be as practical as possible, there is a strong focus on medical information. The curators of the content have included over 4,000 articles from MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia; e-books from the Hesperian Health Guide – an easy to understand and practical set of guides on health topics; and videos on healthcare and medicine, covering topics that go from “The Lungs” and “The Heart”, to “Influenza” and “Fetal Circulation”.
RACHEL is currently helping students with no Internet access worldwide, in Africa, Asia and Latin America. You can help World Possible to continue with their good work by donating to the project or by buying a RACHEL set (Raspberry Pi included); an SD card with Rachel pre-installed; or a USB thumbdrive, which allows you to boot RACHEL from a regular computer.
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