Digital learning device to help B40 kids


Small wonder: The compact size DuckiePi (the yellow device on the desk) can run all the essential computing functions on a desktop computer or laptop.

THE name DuckiePi is given to 19-year-old Bernard Yap’s vision for a better tomorrow.

Think of it as a credit card-sized computer, barely 5cm thick and runs on Google Chromium OS.Astonishingly, for its pocketable and compact size, DuckiePi can run all the essential computing functions you would want on a desktop computer or laptop.

This project emerged as a result of the university’s Taylor’sphere ecosystem to future-proof its graduates for the ever-evolving economic landscape. According to Taylor’s University deputy vice-chancellor and chief academic officer Prof Dr Pradeep Nair, this unique ecosystem nurtures students in the three intelligences – intellect, practical wisdom, and craft.

“Our ecosystem allows students to develop the right life skills and collaborate across disciplines to solve problems and create impact in their communities – mimicking the way the industry operates.

“Providing students with the right environment, networks and resources at the university level is crucial to enable them to thrive in their future careers,” he said.

A helping hand: Bernard presenting a DuckiePi desktop to a recipient from the B40 community. So far, 30 units have been donated to the PPR Lembah Subang community in Selangor.A helping hand: Bernard presenting a DuckiePi desktop to a recipient from the B40 community. So far, 30 units have been donated to the PPR Lembah Subang community in Selangor.

Modern problems require modern solutions after all. In an era when online learning has become the norm, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bernard’s DuckiePi can alleviate the struggles of the B40 community.

Starting out as a smart tablet, it took four months for the entire DuckiePi product to come together.

“I wanted to help the B40 community by providing them with a cost-efficient device that was just as powerful as the ones you could get in the market,” Bernard said.

“The main reason behind it too is the fact that many B40 households with schoolchildren end up having to share one device among multiple family members.

“The more invested I was in the project, the more I realised that DuckiePi would enhance B40 kids’ online learning experiences and improve digital literacy among the B40 community.”

Of course, no brilliant idea is without its fair share of struggles. Fortunately for Bernard, he had the support and guidance of Taylor’s Me.Reka Makerspace (TMM), BizPod and Research & Enterprise.

TMM serves as a hub and provides resources for students of interdisciplinary backgrounds to come together to create something impactful.

For Bernard, TMM served as a network which he could use to tap into the knowledge and expertise of mentors, and other tech and computing students.

On a broader scale, TMM also helps students like Bernard realise their entrepreneurial dreams by offering them guidance on ideation, prototyping, funding, and even patenting.“Those with viable business ideas also approach our university start-up incubator BizPod, which will guide students on funding opportunities and assist them in scaling up their businesses,” said TMM co-director Mike Choong.

“At the heart of the project is still the passion of our students. We merely empower their creative skills. “The beauty of this ecosystem is that students get to create, experiment, fail and start again in a safe environment, and the university supports them in their journey.

“The university allows its students to use any studio or lab on campus for their projects regardless of their degree programmes – effectively making the whole campus one giant Makerspace,” he added.

Along with raising employability for Taylorians, the ecosystem also promotes an entrepreneurial mindset that helps graduates to convert their passion projects into viable business models that could benefit the community.

Taylor’s has also looked at revamping its Taylor’s Curriculum Framework to incorporate various elements such as work-based learning, hybrid degrees and compulsory interdisciplinary projects by allowing students to mix and match degree modules.

Currently, DuckiePi is partnering with InstaCash in a trade-in campaign to raise funds. When app users trade in their used devices using the promo code DUCKIE30, RM10 will be donated towards the DuckiePi fund.

To find out how you can make a difference in a child’s online learning experience, check out https://uni.taylors.edu.my/taylors-duckie/

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