January 2008

Distance Learning Centre @ IIM Bangalore

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“This program, designed for the specific needs of professionals from the software and IT industry in India isnow available simultaneously to students in Bangalore and Chennai & potentially to students in other cities;thanks to the seamless technology brought to the fore by Actis.”
                                                    Dr. Rajendra K. Bandi, IIMB

After 1947, the Government of India focused on creating a solid technology base simultaneously augmented with management talent  and resources. Thus, Indian Institutes of Management (JIM)were born. With its highly accomplished faculty and a motivated student body, JIM Bangalore evolved into a premier centre for management education and research. Today, IIMB strives to achieve excellence through partnerships with industry and others world over.

The challenge- Bridging the communicationgap
The Post Graduate Program in Software Enterprise Management (PGSEM) aims to produce business leaders with strong technical andmanagement knowledge and a global perspective in a way that transcends borders of the institute in Bangalore. Thus, a distance or “distributed” learning initiative was conceived for Bangalore and Chennai. However, the institute was clear that students in Chennai should have the same learning experience as those in Bangalore.

Today while distances are bridged faster than ever before, providing a seamless learning experience between two separate cities was a challenge. For instance, the limited IIMB faculty could not travel between two locations. Yet, teaching in a distributed classroom was not to be significantly different from traditional teaching. And technology was to be simple enough to not impose any constraint on teaching style, or classroom interactions.

Actis – An effective role

  • Reality: As experts in audio-visual-environment control technologies,the Actis Pro.fessional Services Group was certain that a 'zero-distance'interaction was required. Classes would conference in real time.
  • Clarity: The lecture would need to be delivered to local and remote classrooms without acoustic echo or ambient noise. Clear visuals of faculty and students were important and so was the ability for remote stuilents to ask questions during a lecture.
  • Contact: 'Eye contact' between remote students and faculty was key.The ability to lecture freely and share computer presentations and documents with both locations in real-time were important as well
  • Ease: It was also important for the system to be user friendly

The Solutions

After understanding the needs, and rounds of consultations with key members at IIMB, Actis suggested setting up a videoconferencing facility.The institute built two classrooms in each location with the same layout and equipment:

  • Three LCD Displays installed in each class: Two displays in the front show the remote classroom, a third at the rear displays remote students for faculty.The Displays in the remote classroom show faculty.
  • A MultimediaProjector powers the Motorised Screen, displaying presentations in colour and detail without dimming the lights.
  • The Interactive Whiteboard allows the faculty to go beyond a computer presentation to explain his/her point. The board captures the faculty's writing and transfers it in real time to the remote classroom on another projection system.
  • A high end Video Conferencing codec and high resolution 3-CCD cameras are used to transmit video. Satellite IP connectivity is provided by EDUSAT,ISRO. ISDN connectivity over PRI is used for redundancy. Computer presentations are transmitted using NetMeeting.
  • An intuitive Camera Joystick Control provided in the central control room tracks faculty, allowing them complete freedom to  move and interact with the class.
  • The Visualizer captures and transmits sharp images of documents, 3D objects and slides to both classrooms in real time.
  • Slim Gooseneck Microphones are installed on tables for students. A wireless lapel microphone is used by faculty. A DSP audio processor with acoustic echo cancellation transmits clear audio to the remote classroom without unwanted noises.
  • The unique voice tracking system makes the camera instantly 'look' at the Sudent who is speaking, withtheir video transmitted to the remote classroom in realtime.
  • Monitor Speakers reinforce speech audio uniformly in the local classroom, besides program audio and the voice.
  • Connectivity receptacles are installed on faculty desks for laptop connectivity with the AV system.
  • A DVD Recorder records and plays back the lectures.
  • The lighting control system creates optimum room lighting presets for various activities.
  • The touch panel seamlessly activates and controls the AV gear at just the touch of a finger.
  • What's more, the technology is 'hidden' away in a central control room wherein LCD Monitors are used to preview and control content sent to the remote classroom.

“Actis has made it possible for us to conduct seamless classes across locations… the faculty andstudents experience a smooth interaction… from white board drawings to question-answer sessions,” states Dr. Bandi.

IIMB was successfully able to achieve the objectives that it had desired during conceptualisation. The regular online interaction between two remote classrooms has bridged the gap and students in remote classrooms can now enjoy the benefits of being a part of the prestigious IIM Bangalore institution. No wonder that IIMB plans to extend the program to other cities like Hyderabad in the near future.

The Actis Advantage

Actis from the Greek word signifying a beam of light matches our mission to provide advanced communication solutions for spreading knowledge in an enhanced environment. Actis focuses on the environment and technology for presentations; the two go together to form an integrated solution.

As providers of integrated solutions, Actis package together the most appropriate technologies for visual and oral communication (large screen displays, sound and conferencing systems) and environmental controls (lighting and HVAC), depending on your requirements. The aim is to improve the technical quality of the presentations,enhance the environment of the meeting place and simplify manipulation of complex equipment so that one can effectively increase the audiences' receptiveness to the message.

Actis has clients in India, Australia, Germany,Greece, Israel, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States of America.

Actis has its headquarters and production plant in Mumbai, India. It has sales offices in Ahmedabad, Bangalore,Chennai, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, New Delhi & Pune and an all-India distribution network for sales and support activities. Our client base now includes medium and large companies, multinational corporations, educational institutes and government departments (including defence). 

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