Getting Ready in the Summer Break

posted Jun 29, 2014, 10:53 AM by indiaEschool

Summer break meant little interaction with schools and students . So we thought of focusing and strengthening our three main 'components' of the delivery model:

  1. Internet Connectivity ( at the school level )
  2. Input Device ( user interface for teacher / student )
  3. Output Device ( audio / video output device in the classroom )

Internet Connectivity :

This is the backbone of our model and the biggest challenge at present . We tried some of the ISPs ( internet service providers) for our pilot schools in NCR-Dehi region . Started with the market leader , Airtel . They didn't have existing infrastructure inside some of the 'Urban -Village /Slum Pockets' where most of the schools catering to under-privileged students are situated . We thought we could discuss the issue with senior management and impress upon them the 'bottom of pyramid' market which they could tap . We couldn't even reach them ( the senior management) !

Next we tried BSNL the PSU giant . Their ground staff (lineman) had to make site visits and decide the viability . It took them couple of weeks to conclude that their nearest available DP box didn't have spare capacity and it would take some time till they could expand the lines . They did contact us but by that time we had a surprise -

MTS (Sistema Shyam TeleServices Limited) launched their MBlaze Ultra 40GB Super Unlimited Plan with a Wi-Fi dongle, providing 40GB of data per month for Rs.999. The data speed was good and with the Wi-Fi dongle one could connect upto 5 devices . (Device cost Rs.1499)

We are trying to request some concessional rates for our Not-for-profit schools and wanted to discuss with senior management of MTS . However in this case too it is difficult to reach them , one can't get beyond customer-care executive and even their company contact numbers are not given on their website.

We would be using the MTS connection in our pilot schools across NCR Delhi , after the summer break and hope this will solve our connectivity problem to some extent.

We are also eagerly waiting for the launch of 4G broadband service of Reliance Jio which we think would be a game changer both in terms of speed and affordability.

Input Device & Output Display

Since all of the educational content would be on-line there is no need for a heavy machine / computer at the class room level. We require a very 'thin client' , practically only a 'browser'.

We tried an Android PC ( also called PC Link) , slightly bigger than a dongle with inbuilt Android OS , Cortex CPU , 1GB

RAM , Wi-fi connectivity and ports for HDMI / USB /AV interface . It worked fine initially but because of some quality issues it did not last long. If we are able to source it from a reliable manufacturer , probably it would be a cost effective solution (approx. Rs.3000.) and can be used with a normal CRT 17" monitor ( second hand CRT monitors are easily available for not more than Rs.500.) , attached through a HDMI-VGA converter (approx. Rs.500.)

We are still working on it......

Meanwhile we also tried with option of using Tablets as input device connected to CRT / LCD monitors. We had discussions with manufacturers of Aakash , i-ball and X-Pad tablets and found X-Pad Mini (approx. Rs.7500. ) as most suitable for our requirement, at the moment .

We are now ready with the e-class kit !

- MTS Wi-Fi Dongle ( Rs.1500.)

- X-Pad Minni tablet (Rs.7500.)

- HDMI-VGA conveter ( Rs.500)

- CRT , 17" Monitor ( Rs.500,used one )

- External Audio speakers ( Rs.1000.)

Happy e-class !