Established in 1996 and headquartered in the greater Washington, DC, area, EarthWalk Communications, Inc. is a leading provider of educational technology solutions: mobile carts and labs, charging systems, devices and networks. Over the past two decades, EarthWalk has successfully delivered state-of-the-art wireless technology solutions to over 8,000 school districts throughout the United States and its territories and internationally to clients in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, Latin America and Caribbean. EarthWalk has gained a reputation for solving problems and delivering cost-effective technology that enhances any learning environment. The company’s dedication to serving the education and training community has earned EarthWalk several notable achievements, including:
- The Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award;
- No. 1 ranking as the fastest growing technology company in Virginia by the Deloitte & Touche Technology Fast 50 program; and
- The Prince William County, Virginia Technology Achievement Award
Our mission is to deliver innovative and reliable technology products for teachers and students. We custom build products for our customers’ tech needs, space and budgets. Some highlights include:
- We were the first company to integrate wireless technology into laptops.
- We patented the technology for mobile computer carts.
- We were one of the pioneers to develop all-day mobile battery power for laptops.
- We engineered and patented a High-Efficiency (HE) electrical power management and battery power technology system that’s adapter-free and energy-efficient for charging laptops.
- Recognizing the electrical demands of increased technology use in classrooms and one-to-one deployments, we have launched a solar power division, SolarWalk, developing rooftop, ground mount and carport systems that can generate up to 90% of your electricity while still working with your county’s infrastructure—saving school districts approximately 40% in energy costs.
Our technology and product lines are always evolving to provide the best possible learning tools and environments for students across the globe at a reasonable cost—customized for specific devices, technology needs and budgets.
EarthWalk entered the technology industry under the vision and entrepreneurship of its founder and CEO, Evan T. McConnell, who saw a real need to improve computer and internet use in the classroom. He had visited schools where a teacher and twenty or more students would gather around a single desktop computer, struggling to see and to learn. EarthWalk set out to develop high-quality, cost-effective solutions that would enable teachers and instructors to increase productivity by creating a wireless learning environment where students can access information and learn simultaneously.
EarthWalk was the first technology company to integrate wireless technology into a laptop and has since pioneered a number of innovative solutions that set it apart from other companies in the industry—including the design and patent of an energy-efficient, AC adapter-free charging system as well as all-day mobile battery power for laptops. Through close collaboration with primary and secondary school administrators and educators, EarthWalk’s technology has evolved to address the fundamental challenges associated with implementing computer-enabled learning environments, particularly 1:1 access to computers, reliable power, all-day charging capabilities. Today, the company is widely recognized for its total technology solutions—durable mobile storage & charging carts for devices as well as the landmark, patented High Efficiency (HE) charging systems—designed and manufactured in Manassas, Virginia, with the needs of the global education and training community in mind.
Mission and Vision
Access to technology is by far the most fundamental prerequisite for an all-inclusive information society. EarthWalk’s mission and vision is to provide affordable technology solutions for educational and training institutions. Earth Walk’s unique total technology solution is particularly applicable to emerging countries because of its cost effectiveness, rapid implementation and effectiveness in overcoming many of the impediments related to ICT accessibility. This is especially relevant in economically disadvantaged or less developed regions, which often lack the infrastructure to implement conventional computer labs and the resources to upgrade their facilities.
Working with its in-country distributor since 2006, EarthWalk’s technology has been very well received at the school board levels and has been successful in being awarded several IT bids. Sales continue to be strong through several renewable contracts with school boards throughout Canada.
EarthWalk joined dozens of companies seeking to bid on technology solutions for Egypt in 2001. After participating in an international trade mission directed by the Department of Commerce, EarthWalk was the only company asked by the Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology to attend a “by invitation only” Smart Schools Seminar. EarthWalk’s wireless mobile laptops and e-learning technology are continually assessed to be an ideal solution for Egyptian schools in both urban and rural areas to access web based education and training. Currently over 550 labs for The 200 School Project to enhance education technology in Egyptian public schools has been deployed.
EarthWalk’s mobile laboratories were presented at the World Economic Forum in 2005 and generated significant interest from leaders of the Jordan Education Initiative. The labs were on display at the Queen Rania Center, School Technology Innovations Center, which highlights innovative technology for education. EarthWalk’s mobile wireless computer laboratories benefited the Jordan Education Initiative Discovery Schools in pilot projects by demonstrating alternative solutions to increasing student and teacher access to ICT.
As part of USAID’s Primary Education Project (PEP), EarthWalk—in partnership with the Academy for Educational Development—supplied semi-rugged eBuddy™ laptops, mobile and fixed laptop carts and “all-day” SideKick external laptop batteries. The primary goal of USAID’s PEP initiative is to provide modern computer technology to students in all primary schools in Macedonia. The five year, $16.4 million dollar USAID-funded project hopes to strengthen education and support decentralization efforts as the country seeks entrance into the EU. The project also aims to renovate buildings and learning environments, improve school-based assessments to stimulate and reinforce quality learning, and increase overall access and improve the use of information technology. In March of 2008, the success of this project was showcased as a prospective model for Slovenia’s school-based assessments improvement project.
For many children in poor Mexican communities, the transition from secondary school to work evidences the great mismatches that exist between the skills they have to offer and those that employers are seeking. In collaboration with the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP-Mexico), EarthWalk has made access to information and communication technologies a reality by delivering more than 410 eBuddy™ laptops and 28 mobile computer labs to provide computer training. Lacking in infrastructure, the schools benefited instantly from the mobility, safety, and virtual continuous operation that the EarthWalk carts offer by resolving deficiencies of space in fixed labs; turning regular classrooms into computer labs—thus decreasing the student-to-computer ratio; providing adequate security by properly storing and locking the laptops when not in use; and eliminating the hassles of electricity disruptions by supplying each laptop uninterrupted battery power through the use of the “all-day” SideKick batteries. Since the SmartCart32™ mobile labs were introduced at the Santa Catarina Preparatory Polytechnic in Monterrey, more than 210 students have strengthened their IT skills by receiving over 10,668 hours of instruction and practice in just one semester. Given the success of this pilot in improving the quality of education for the children at this school, additional mobile wireless computer labs have been deployed to the states of Chihuahua and Veracruz.
Native American Tribes
Of significance is EarthWalk’s relationship with Native American tribes in different regions of the United States. In 2005, a pilot program funded by the U.S. DOL employed EarthWalk’s wireless mobile solution in communities and schools throughout five tribal nations, many of which are in very remote locations. This technology provides hundreds of Native Americans with access to workforce training services at skill training centers that would otherwise be out of their reach. Access to technology aims to expand literacy, skill training and academic skills, thereby increasing the employability and viability of Native Americans in the marketplace.
The Palestine Education Initiative benefited from and followed the example of the successful Jordan Education Initiative. EarthWalk works with its local partner to introduce innovative wireless mobile technologies to accelerate the integration of internet connectivity in the Palestinian education system. During the Expotch IT, EarthWalk introduced its technology to the Palestinian Authority to help overcome the challenge of geographic separation of cities, enable new pedagogy and facilitate learning, creativity, and innovation.
In September 2001, EarthWalk was awarded a mobile laboratory computer contract from the Puerto Rico Department of Education. As part of the Technology Innovative Centers CENIT pilot program, EarthWalk’s NetWize System has been installed in over 1,200 public schools throughout the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, enabling the Department of Education to succeed in expanding its wireless access and capabilities for students and teachers. EarthWalk’s solution successfully addressed many of the educational concerns faced by the Puerto Rican schools and in August 2007 the Department of Education awarded EarthWalk its third contract in order to continue deploying technology and training to the remaining schools over the next few years.
In January 2009, EarthWalk partnered with the Academy for Education Development (AED) and began deployment of 112 EarthWalk semi-rugged laptops, SideKick batteries and eCharger Solutions—all recharged by a uniquely designed EarthWalk solar charging system. Many rural areas of Senegal experience daily blackouts inhibiting students from accessing technology during the school day. The SideKick solution allows students in nine rural schools to power laptops via battery power during the day; the solar charging system will recharge the SideKick batteries at night, giving schools full use of their laptops. The EarthWalk semi-rugged laptops are designed to withstand adverse climate conditions; resisting drops, overheating, sand and dirt.
Trinidad & Tobago
At the International School of Trinidad & Tobago, over 480 children from all backgrounds (60% expatriate, 40% nationals) use and share FlexCart16™ and eXpress8x8™ laboratories to learn various subjects ranging from science, French and Spanish to presentation, publication and word-processing applications. Classroom sizes vary between 15 and 18 students, which has allowed the school to achieve a remarkable ratio of one laptop per child.
EarthWalk’s labs are benefiting students with disabilities and learning difficulties, providing them with equal access to information and technology. In April 2005, the University of Bath launched a pilot Assistive Technologies Initiative for nearly 400 enrolled students with disabilities or learning difficulties such as dyslexia. This pilot program employs EarthWalk’s systems, which provide a platform for a stimulating and effective learning environment for the students. Included in the laptops is a range of software that converts spoken words into written text, assisting students with manual dexterity difficulties to produce written work. Students with visual impairments use software that ‘reads’ text on a screen or in a book and recites it back to the user through headphones. Because of EarthWalk’s unique solution with recharging battery bays, the students can use the laptops continually throughout the school day, with no down time due to recharging batteries.
EarthWalk has provided its mobile wireless technology solutions to more than 8,000 school districts in 50 states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia. Highlights include Klein Independent School District (ISD) in Texas, where more than 40 carts were deployed to schools for use across different grade levels. Another example is in Hopewell, Virginia, where 10 mobile labs were installed throughout the Hopewell City School District. And in Oklahoma City EarthWalk deployed 27 mobile labs through the GearUp Program. These carts are facilitating teaching with technology and online testing initiatives throughout school districts and providing after-school enrichment programs.
Collaborative Agreement with the Academy for Educational Development
In May 2005, EarthWalk signed a collaborative agreement with the Academy for Educational Development (AED), one of the largest non-governmental organizations in the education sector with high-profile projects throughout the world. AED works with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other international and local donor organizations to bring the benefits of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to underserved regions and populations; apply ICTs across different socio-economic areas of development, and provide opportunities to improve education, increase access to ICTs, ensure equity of access, improve government services and increase economic growth. Under this agreement, EarthWalk seeks to bring its technology solutions to interested countries, and in so doing recognizes the opportunities that ICTs create, as well as acknowledging the challenge of implementing them at the grassroots level.
EarthWalk serves as a core institutional resource partner for the dot-EDU cooperative agreement – one of three cooperative agreements comprising the USAID funded DOT-COM Alliance: Digital Opportunity through Technology and Communication Partnerships – to strengthen education and learning systems around the world. Participating partners in dot-EDU seek to increase the reach and quality of programs in basic education, teacher training, workforce development and higher education though the application of information and communication technology.
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