Laptops, fast computer servers, tablets, high-speed Internet, modern video equipment, mobile technology and new educational software all are responsible for making a change in the traditional way of learning and teaching. And the countries who can gain the most from these advances are those like India — developing, expanding and ambitious.
India is working to take advantage of technology to spur education in the remote areas of the country. According to B. Pradeep Nair of Times of India, technology is triggering a social revolution in the educational and health care sectors in India’s deepest regions. In nine schools in the districts of Raichur, Shimoga and Hoskote, hundreds of students are using remote-access technology to learn, see and talk with teachers who are sitting miles away.
“At 40.2, India has one of the lowest pupil-teacher ratio and 33% of schools have just one teacher,” says Aravind Sitaraman, president, inclusive growth, Cisco Systems. “The fact that students have laptops with them doesn’t solve the problem, because there are so many infrastructural bottlenecks. The technology that we have put in place is a great enabler bringing in a qualitative change in the education sector.”
Cisco’s technology includes a box which functions like a router and WebX. The box has a computer running on Windows, a projector, speaker, camera, microphone, and power management tools all built into it. WebX, which is also used by many Fortune 100 companies, is being used to bring in the social and educational transformation. It allows a high level of scaling, and multiple concurrent sessions can be held.
Cisco’s educational ecosystem uses cloud technology allowing teacher to manage more than just one classroom. One teacher can virtually appear in many classrooms in many localities. The system is administered by the telecom provider.
Sitaraman said that “the teacher is able to see these classrooms in the form of tiles on a screen. He can enlarge one of the tiles to have a closer look at that classroom. He can even address a particular student in that classroom. The solution ensures that all rural schools can offer all subjects with the same level of expert teaching that a student in a city or a metro gets access to.”
The main features of the system are cloud connectivity, integrated network with Wi-Fi features, high-quality image projection and power management, high-quality audio/video streaming on SaaS based platform, and products built for temperature, dust and theft intolerance.
“We are looking at the concept of an Enabled Village by focussing on four key areas: education, health care, marketplace and skills, and public services. For this, we make use of affordable models that save time and money for people; and high-end technology that are based in the cloud,” said Sitaraman.