My name is Tyler Cinnamon. I am the co-founder of TechLit Africa. TechLit re-purposes surplus technology for communities to learn, do business and lead. Despite the vast surplus of devices worldwide, those who have the most to gain from modern tools are often left without them.
I grew up in a small town in outside of Chicago, Illinois. If you grew up in a community like mine, you had answers all around you. At a very young age, children in my community play with toys, designed to teach them shapes, colors and the basics of language. When they get older, they have books, music and videos that teach them how they can fit into society. And when the questions become specialized, we have libraries filled with books on any subject. We’ve had these resources for generations.
With the exponential rise of computing technology, all of these resources fit in my pocket. Toys can be simulated with games and videos. We’ve been sharing digital books, music and culture for a decade now. And when you have specialized questions in the modern world, you turn to Wikipedia, StackOverflow and other online forums. We can leverage the success of the internet to impact lives.
Last year, Nelly and I installed ten computers into Mogotio, Kenya (a village without broadband internet access). Our platform has games, with lessons about colors, music, english and roleplaying. We have programs that teach touch-typing, hundreds of english songs and thousands of videos from Khan Academy. And when the questions become more specialized, we have tens of thousands of pages from Wikipedia and books about programming and app development. All of this content costs us nothing, and it’s free for anyone to copy.
I am a self-taught programmer from Shabbona, Illinois. I learned all the skills I use as a professional engineer from freely available content online. Within a year, I was highly successful in a new field. Re-skilling is an essential tool for thriving in the digital revolution and I am proof that a motivated person can gain skills if they have access to technology and educational content. Having seen rural education without modern resources like Google and Wikipedia, I am determined to bring modern tools where they’re needed most.