Thanks to a generous gift from an alumnus, the Computer Science Department at Saint Joseph’s College has been able to obtain a good supply of low-cost Android devices, which we strive to make ubiquitous in our community in a wide variety of use cases.
Besides using Android smartphones as the primary target platform for our introductory programming classes, we have placed them in service in both academic and community-service settings.
Examples include the collection of historical images with embedded geolocation and sensor-provided data, real-time field access to USDA soil survey and classification data, recording audio and video for a variety of media-distribution purposes, and general use (particularly by low-income and foreign students) with our Wifi network, to replace costly services normally provided by commercial wireless carriers.
An outreach project provides smartphones to an economically challenged community in conjunction with a small cafe, where the owner provides free Wifi access to her clients. Customers use the phones to place calls, send and receive texts, and access the Internet while they enjoy sustenance and fellowship.
Another initiative led us to purchase a large number of damaged smartphones for which cheap replacement parts are easily obtained. A student learning/community service project is charged with repairing the devices and putting them back into service. This serves the dual purposes of lowering our per-device cost and allowing our students to obtain hands-on experience repairing modern smartphone hardware.
Our goal is Android for everyone, and we have been gratified to make a fair degree of progress in the early months of the initiative.
Brian Capouch is a longtime open source user, programmer, and hacker.
He teaches CS using 100% Open Source tools at small Indiana college, run a small wireless ISP; Asterisk and openWRT are his specialities.
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