SAWBO: Scientific Animations Without Borders

This week’s Glocal Notes post is an introduction to SAWBO: Scientific Animations Without Borders, a global education initiative based at the University of Illinois. This project aims to connect existing knowledge with people around the world who would benefit from this information, but to whom it is inaccessible. Additionally, the project aims to preserve and disseminate local knowledge. At the heart of the project is a growing library of animations about issues relevant to global development. The videos are divided into three main categories: agriculture, health, and women’s empowerment. Some examples include introductions to drip irrigation, cholera prevention, and microfinance.

Videos are available in fifty different languages, so as to be accessible to people around the world. (Note: not every video is available in every language. Most videos are available in at least two languages.) Additionally, all of the videos are free to use for educational purposes. The videos can be downloaded directly through SAWBO’s Video Library and will soon be available for streaming through a mobile app. To make the videos accessible in places with limited bandwidth, the videos are also distributed in the form of a pre-loaded USB, called the Extension System In Your Wallet (ESIYW).

SAWBO dates back to 2010 and is the brainchild of two University of Illinois professors: Dr. Barry Pittendrigh (Department of Entomology) and Dr. Julia Bello-Bravo (International Programs and Studies), who now co-direct the project. (You can read a short article about the project written by Dr. Pittendrigh in 2012 in the Illinois International Review.) According to the SAWBO website, 60% of the world’s mobile phone users live in developing countries. The project’s founders saw an opportunity to use technology to overcome some of the educational challenges to development. Fittingly, the project is partially funded by USAID, the development arm of the United States Government. Other major supporters include the Feed the Future Legume Innovation Lab at Michigan State University, the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss, and several endowed funds at at the University of Illinois. The initiative partners with organizations throughout the world to provide access to the videos and the information contained within them.

Interested in learning more? Watch a short video about the project below. If you would like to get involved, SAWBO is seeking volunteers with foreign language abilities to help make videos available in additional languages. As the videos are free to use, you are encouraged to incorporate them into your educational materials.

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