February 2017

Transforming Learning Experience in Rajasthan

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Dr Jitendra Kumar Soni, IAS
District Collector and Magistrate,
Jhalawar,
Government of Rajasthan

‘Project Utkarsh’ and ‘e-Gyankendra’ are the two projects which have earned Rajasthan government’s accolades. If the former project is about bringing qualitative change in mass school education via technology and quiz-based learning system, the latter, developed by Dr Jitendra Kumar Soni, IAS, District Collector and Magistrate, Jhalawar, Government of Rajasthan, is meant to facilitate and empower the community through e-learning and e-governance, examines Kartik Sharma of Elets News Network (ENN).

Project Utkarsh
Many government schools have access to technology infrastructure through various schemes, but its utilisation by teachers and students is usually quite below par. Moreover, there is no effective way for the government to track Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure usage or measure the impact on student learning outcome.
The administration has planned to address underutilisation of ICT infrastructure and lack of teaching staff and student engagement through different tools and methodologies.
Self learning, smart class, performance benchmarking, remote monitoring, infrastruture improvement and increased scientific temperament are the key objectives of this project.

Result Indicators
Benefits:

  • Build a strong learning culture by making students more curious, confident and participative
  • Made curriculum-based learning more engaging and playful
  • Collaboration with implementation agencies (e.g. government and department of education) for consistent project implementation. As part of the Project Utkarsh, we are establishing district and school level implementation model for further replication.
  • Established accountability and ownership in programme implementation
  • Progress through top-down implementation and empowering stakeholders with one dashboards and remote monitoring.

Key Considerations:

  • 127 ICT schools selected from Jhalawar District
  • 80+ schools have completed smart class Teachers Training
  • 500+ systems used for regular practice and learning
  • 1,000+ teachers were trained for long term capacity building
  • 6,000+ e-mail ids created for students
  • 3,000+ students of class 9th and 10th regularly using quiz academy for studies
  • 22,000+ quizzes played from teachers and students id (online and offline) with an average of 1,500 quizzes per month
  • 2,000+ students participated in online/ offline formal assessment
  • 82.5% participation of rural area schools
  • Contents developed in local language
  • Revolutionary step for Digital India through digital empowerment

Enabler Indcators
St
akeholders’ inclusiveness and participation:
Formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Statement of Work (SoW) signed up among key stakeholders including roles and responsibility of each stakeholder, programme methodology and execution approach has been crucial in this regard.

Technology adaptations/ innovative deployment:
Quiz Academy platform having exclusiveness and interactiveness of content in common parlance, smooth user interface, remote monitoring dashboard for real time status, offline solution for non-internet availability in schools have been important factors.

Role of leadership by way of policy support/direction
Role of Hon’ble Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje has been most crucial in effective execution. Her regular review, motivation, feedback has worked as a catalyst. WhatsApp group has been made for continuous discussion and feedback by District Collector, Jhalawar.
Stakeholders inclusiveness and participation: Informal meetings were held with all the stakeholders involved in the project. Users were shown power point presentation which covers various aspects of ICT technology.

Value Indicators
Digital inclusion:
User friendly application is made available in local Hindi language. Capacity building of all stakeholders is done through review meetings, informal gathering, power point presentation etc.

Green e-governance
It is an environment-friendly application because it provides paperless education on the concept of e-books. It is also helpful in lowering the pollution because of travel less education concept.

e-Gyankendra
Teachers and students across the globe can now access educational resources in their own language for free. But there is a big problem of internet access. Around two-third of the world population doesn’t have any reliable internet access and within India, the situation also not so good. This can be addressed through (semi-) offline educational-media servers which are present at the site of the educational deployment. Considered together, the immense growth in high quality Open Educational Resources (OER), recent advances in lowpower, low-cost computing, and the fall in cost of storage devices makes bridging the gap an economically feasible and scalable solution.

Proposed Solution
Open Media Server based e-Gyankendra aims to bridge that gap by providing a versatile technology solution and sowing seeds of a grassroots community around it. Let’s take a sample. l

  • Media
  • Connectivity
  • Administration
  • Sample Content
  • Wikipedia (multilingual)
  • TED Talks
  • Worldwide maps (OpenStreetMap)
  • Project Gutenberg (45000+ books)
  • Khan Academy (KA Lite)
  • NCERT resources (multilingual – through the NROER project)
  • Toys From Trash video
  • Any other open-licensed content

Web Apps

  • LMS – Moodle
  • Local Social Network – Elgg
  • Wiki – Dokuwiki
  • Book Server – Pathagar
  • Collaboration – Jabber
  • Any other open-licensed web-app
  • Personal use

Creates a home Wi-Fi network

  • School use (Personal use features)
  • MManages the LAN

If there is limited internet connectivity available:

  • Becomes the Gateway
  • MProvides content filtering
  • MOptimizes bandwidth usage
  • MRemote debugging and deployment through VPNVillage network use
    (School use features)
  • Wide area Wi-Fi network meshes
  • MDeployment
  • MBuilt on next generation technology
  • MWeb-console for push-button deployment and management of content and services

Analytics

  • Content access analytics – AwStats
  • MServer diagnostics – Munin
  • MAdmin console – Cockpit

Hardware options

  •  Low end – Raspberry Pi
  • MMid to High end – Intel NUC, and most other generic computers and servers

Need for the Initiative
In the present era of digitisation, relevance and importance of Internet cannot be under-rated but affordability, availability, security and consistency are also key aspects. The solution of open media server based e-Gyankendra is an effort to create an ecosystem for community empowerment and smart-citizen though digital learning leveraging open source technology and providing free access to best of the open source digital content for local community without internet-dependency.
The solution also supports ‘Digital India’ mission through awareness, alignment and active participation of the community. It provides a future path for digital Value Added Services (VAS) like information centre for latest government schemes and serves as a knowledge hub for various learner and intellectual groups. Monitoring, reporting and student engagement, maintenance support and usage data report are also some of the objectives.

Conceptualisation
Conceptualised and developed under the guidance of district administration of Jhalawar, e-Gyankendra has pre-loaded open source content on open media server comprising e-books, educational videos, animation, simulation, quiz academy app, government schemes, forms, details etc. Open media server (OM Server) empowers users to access preloaded content on wi-fi enabled device (tablet/mobile/laptop/ computer etc) without Internet dependency. Content can be periodically updated as well.
First e-Gyankendra of Rajasthan has been set-up in Sunel Panchayat Samiti campus of Jhalawar district. Current set up gives access within 1.5 km of radius. To facilitate the local community, a laboratory of five tablets has also been established in Panchayat Samiti campus.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje inaugurated this e-Gyankendra in July, 2016 and dedicated it to the public.

Key Features of e-Gyankendra
Best
 of the knowledge content: e-Gyankendra can host and support open media content in the form of video, docs, PDF, animation, images etc. It has been tried to compile, curate and host best of the knowledge content especially of Indian context. There is around 1 Tera Byte data which includes:

  • Wikipedia (multilingual)
  • Quiz Academy (www.quizacademy.org
  • TED Talks l Worldwide maps (OpenStreetMap)
  • Project Gutenberg (45,000+ books)
  • Khan Academy (KA Lite)
  • NCERT resources (multilingual – through the NROER project)
  • Toys From Trash video
  • Any other open-licensed content

Ecosystem for e-Governance: Most of the relevant and important information related to government schemes, forms and application of various departments and other e-Governance related content has been included. It can be periodically updated.
Free Access: Content available on e-Gyankendra can be accessed by anybody through wi-fi device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, computer etc.) within the network and will be always be free.
Network Coverage: Setting up routers and access point at important places. Most of the part of Sunel village has been covered through wi-fi mesh network to provide smooth access to community.
Monitoring of Data Usage: Monitoring of data usage, student and community engagement can be done and periodical report can be generated.

Key Steps involved

  • Aligning District Information Officer and National Informatics Centre teams for location identification
  • Location visit, feasibility study around access, density, status of civil construction, availability of basic infrastructure etc. and finalisation of location
  • Setting up knowledge server at mutually identified locations
  • Customisation and configuration including local branding and network conventions \
  • Wi-Fi network set up with adequate access point providing accessibility to surrounding community
  • Server and wi-fi network mesh testing
  • On-site staff training to manage and administer the set up
  • Monitoring, reporting and student engagement, maintenance support and usage data report
  • Benefits to various stakeholders (Result Indicators)

Students
Students are the most important beneficiary of e-Gyankendra who can access important content of their course curriculum e.g. NCERT books, quiz academy content, science video and simulation, Khan Academy etc. It not only creates ecosystem for technology-based quality education but also supports digital empowerment and skill development of students. Wi-fi network provides access of e-Gyankendra content in ICT lab of nearby two government ICT Schools where students can get direct benefit and students of other school access it through their personal wi-fi device or visit e-Gyankendra lab established in Panchayat Samiti campus.

Local Community
Hotspot zone has been created through deployment of access point and routers in important public area e.g. bus stand, hospital, schools, banks, main market etc so that local residents of Sunel village can access e-governance services through Wi-Fi device without using internet bandwidth.

Career Aspirants:
Young generation planning career in government jobs, higher study etc prepare for competitive exams leveraging e-Gyankendra specially National Repository of Open Educational Resources (NROER) content, NCERT books, TED talks, and Quiz Academy etc.

Local Administration and Elected Representatives:
For local administration and elected representative, e-Gyankendra is useful in two ways. First it supports them to contribute in central government initiative ‘Digital India Mission’ and secondly it smoothens the e-governance process by providing all information about government schemes (e.g. Mukhyamantri Jal Svavlamnan Abhiyan, Swachh Bharat Mission, e-Mitra related information) and various forms and application.

Future Scope
Looking towards various benefits of e-Gyankendra, it can be further expanded in the following manner;
Establishment of e-Gyankendra in every block:
District administration can plan to set-up e-Gyankendra in every block of Jhalawar district through local community support Path for digital value added services: Other value added services in the field of agriculture, tourism, higher education, skill development, employability enhancement etc can be included in the near future.
Digital Empowerment: Government Hostels, Kasturba Gandhi Hostels, Tribal hostels and other residential schools where digital accessibility is limited, e-Gyankendra may be an ideal platform for digital empowerment.
“e-Gyankendra is a revolutionary step for digital empowerment, knowledge dissemination and e-governance with minimal dependency on internet. It is a highly impactful initiative in those areas where accessibility, availability and affordability of internet services is limited.”
“e-Gyankendra’s digital value-added services can also be useful in tourism, agriculture, higher education, skill development, employability enhancement etc.”

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