Challenges in Rural Education
Quality of education is a major concern in rural schools as there is a huge shortage of good and committed teachers in these schools. In addition, there are major challenges in rural settings such as power shortage, very poor or lack of internet connection, lack of IT personnel to maintain computers, etc. Some rural government schools are overly packed with students, leading to a poor teacher - student ratio resulting in very poor quality of education. Innovation in digital technologies today can easily address many of these challenges in an innovative way thereby helping the rural students as well as the teachers.
Solution and deployment schematic
Considering this worst case situations in rural education, our solution offers syllabus based electronic educational content along with innovative and user-friendly ways to access this e-content with bidirectional features to greatly enhance the quality of education. Based on our decade long experience in providing our services in remotest parts in India and in Africa, we developed a state-of-the-art digital solution known as “Virtual Classroom” for the students to access syllabus based e-content in schools with limited Internet connection or no Internet connection and also with frequent power failures. This solution consists of a highly reliable local server with power backup providing e-content streaming on a local Wi-Fi network to Android or Windows laptops and/or desktops. These end terminal laptops/desktops don’t have any hard disks thereby enhancing the reliability and reducing the downtime significantly. Fully charged laptops can sustain up to 8 hrs. The students can not only stream the content recommended by their teachers on touchpad laptops and desktops, but can also answer the e-questions that the teachers have entered which pop up at predefined times during the streaming. This unique solution is one of the most innovative, reliable and economical solution helping the students to access the digital content in these virtual classrooms.
The education system is changing rapidly. Use of technology for making learning interesting and fun for students is increasing. Imagine a science teacher explaining how a DNA replicates, a history teacher teaching a class about the Mourya Empire, or a geography teacher teaching how Block Mountains are formed. The best of teachers take pains to explain the concepts largely depending on their own abilities. The students listen to the teachers, try to decipher the figures drawn on the blackboard and read from their text books, take notes and try hard to visualize how it happens and remember. At the end of the class, the teacher asks a few random questions to assess how the class fared. Invariably a few hands (mostly of the same set of brightest students in class), go up, the answers are given and the class ends.
Virtual Classroom brings about a complete transformation in classrooms. The Science teacher while explaining how a DNA replicates is able to show the class a 3D animation of the DNA replication process on a large screen. Teacher can explain the fine points of the process, zoom in to show the relevant visuals, pause and explain when and where she needs to emphasize. Similarly the History teacher shows the class a virtual walk through of the Harappan Civilization. Uncovering the relevant parts step by step as a part of her lesson plan, while the Geography teacher shows a virtual Block Mountain being formed, all with engaging animations, colors, music, sounds and voice.
The teachers gain complete attention and interest of every child in the class. Every child gets a visual input on how it happens and the concepts are well understood and internalized.
- A video streaming solution which works on chrome and Firefox browsers of windows, android and iPads.
- Responsive design to suit the screens of PCs, laptops, pads and mobiles.
- Simple and rich interface with video searching and sorting.
- Videos are displayed with thumbnails and metadata.
- User friendly video player with full screen, seeking (with thumbnails), switch between resolutions.
- Simple admin interface to upload videos, manage keywords and metadata. Videos can also be picked up from an ftp server.
- Automatic transcoding to lower resolutions to help viewers with lower bandwidth.
- Facility to watermark videos to manage copyright.
- Manage video categories.
- Provide role based access of videos to users.
- Statistics about the usage of videos by users.
- Users can put personal notes for videos and the notes can be shared as well.
- While a user plays a video, related video thumbnails are also shown for further viewing.
- Admin / Teacher can link videos with supporting documents and questions.
- For eg: a pdf can be linked at 3 min :10 sec of video, a question at 10 min, and a jpg at 20 min. when users play the video, at the corresponding times the documents and questions are shown to the user and the user actions are recorded.
- Create and manage groups, for example “students of 8th standard” etc.
- Recommend videos to individual students as well as groups. The recommended videos appear on the top of the video list for students to watch. Teacher can set expiry time for recommended videos and also withdraw the video from recommendation list if required.
- Metadata can be picked up from the video or metadata can be updated into the video.
- Improves teacher effectiveness and productivity in class.
- It brings abstract and difficult curriculum concepts to life inside classrooms.
- Makes learning an enjoyable experience for students.
- Improves academic performance of students.
- Enables instant formative assessment of learning outcomes in class.
- It also enables teachers to instantly assess and evaluate the learning achieved by their students in class.
The concept of this Virtual Classroom is endorsed by “Karnataka Science Council for Science and Technology” (KSCST) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the solution has been deployed in 10 rural schools in Karnataka State. This Digital Classroom has greatly improved the quality of education in a short time itself as shown by an independent study in one of the schools.