Solar Powered off-the-grid Digital Learning Solutions

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The Indian Education System – On overview

India has 430 million children of school going age in India, with over 60% going to Govt. schools,, nearly 55% of whom lack basic reading skills. Technology can help in mitigating some of the concerns plaguing the Indian Education System today. Education can be digitized in rural areas by providing multimedia teaching tools to teachers and engaging students through learning methods that utilize digital tools, such as smart-boards, LCD screens, videos, etc. Technology, therefore can not only provide students in rural areas with access to the same rich learning sources as their urban counter parts, but also give them a sense of “connection” with the outside world and the opportunities it offers.

Teachers in remote and rural areas, however face many challenges, such as lack of training in using digital tools, limited infrastructure to support implementation, limited exposure and lack of trained support.

An overview of existing Technological solutions, their success and challenges

A few different approaches aimed at providing digital learning opportunities at Govt. Schools have been implemented around the country as below:

·        Computer Aided Learning Labs have been provided at many Govt. and low cost private schools, to provide Digital literacy. While presence of hardware is ensured, the system falls short on training, maintenance and usage and relies heavily on the presence of basic infrastructure like electricity or connectivity as well as the existence of tech-savvy teachers

·        The Smart Class and other projector based solutions are yet others that deliver customized multimedia content onto an interactive white board via an overhead projector. The high upfront cost, recurring license costs, dependency on existing architecture (uninterrupted electricity, internet connectivity and large classrooms) combined with the lack of support at the remote school by a reliable and local implementation partner make these solutions difficult to scale.

·        Tablet based solutions are now also in use in many rural schools. While they see better adoption and have a lower learning curve, they still depend on basic infrastructure, are non-interactive and deliver static content.

There are ?? Govt. and low cost private schools in rural India, with ?? % of them which do not have electricity. Many rural areas of India still suffer from intermittent to just limited power supply for households, and with less than half of India’s population having access to mobile internet, Digital Learning is still a pipe dream for most of rural India.

The Pilot – Ladakh, a high altitude Himalayan Mountain desert

A Digital Solution that can be piloted in scale at a region that faces extreme challenges in terms of geography, weather, terrain, infrastructure and remoteness, is one that has the potential to be replicated in other schools.

Ladakh, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India is one of the highest naturally inhabited regions of the world with hundreds of sparsely populated tiny communities living in altitudes from 9,300 ft to 15,300 ft. Inclement weather, harsh terrain and lack of basic infrastructure keep these villages isolated for 6 months of a year. With 1000 schools catering to a school going population of just 40,000 students in this region, the system suffers from isolation, neglect, bare minimum infrastructure and a struggling education system with high dropout rates and dismal results that drives young children to far away cities for education.

The DigiLab was conceptualized and piloted by 17000 ft Foundation in 105 schools of Ladakh in 2018

 

The DigiLab – How 17000 ft does it

 

The 17000 ft DigiLab Program is a unique standalone, Solar Powered, ‘off-the-grid’, in-school digital learning solution that delivers personalized and adaptive quality learning to children even in the most inaccessible of schools, in areas which have neither electricity nor connectivity, ensuring last mile connectivity through the presence of a “mobile” facilitator app.

Run independently at the school by the teachers and maintained in partnership with 17000ft, the DigiLab enables better teaching and learning at the school, while also providing a common platform for interaction with other stakeholders through a continually updated dashboard. Under this project, each school receives the following:

·        Electricity -  Electricity to power up a Digital Lab in the school consisting of a 200 W Solar Panel and Battery with 12v and 5v output sockets designed to power only tablets and a special 12v T.V. This has been designed to ensure that usage is restricted to the purpose for which it was intended for.

·        Tablets / Tablet PCs- 10-inch Android tablets (number 10 to 20, depending on the enrolment of the school)

·        L.E.D T. V – A 12v 32” L.E.D T.V. to allow the teacher to display digital content as a part of her teaching process

·        Local Server – A local server to create a local Wi-Fi within the School to sync tablets, store student performance and deliver new content periodically

·        Digital Learning App – A personalized and adaptive learning solution that delivers customized content within the local network, personalized for each child and providing opportunities for adaptive learning through remediation and nudged learning.

·        “Facilitator App” – An Android based Facilitator App that stays with a 17000 ft Facilitator who is mobile and travels periodically to each school to monitor, download usage data and deliver new and updated content. A completely offline system, it syncs up to the cloud when in connectivity.

·        Management Dashboard –A common performance monitoring dashboard to connect the various stakeholders on a common platform and deliver timely reports

DigiLab - The Innovation

17000 ft’s innovation in the DigiLab solution is multifold:

¨         It is a complete, standalone system that does not depend on the existence of even basic infrastructure like electricity or connectivity and has proven to work even in -40 degree winters

¨         A truly off-the-grid solution, it is completely offline, while also having the ability to connecto  loud server through a mobile “Facilitator App”

¨         The system has been designed tamper-proof and intended to be used only in schools to improve both, the teaching and learning process

¨         This solution is commercially viable and can be replicated as is in any remote or rural area with content changes and a local implementation partner


DigiLab – Where it is today

 

·        17000 ft rolled out its first set of DigiLabs in Sep 2018in 105 of the remotest and most isolated schools of Leh and Kargil impacting 10,000 students

·        Over four hundred teachers already trained on the system with two appointed Teacher Administrators in each school maintaining their DigiLabs

·        Data from these DigiLabs already being shared with the local Administration through a management dashboard, with an additional 30 more DigiLabs to be commissioned through the local Govt.

 

DigiLab – Where can we go from here

 

·        Scaling up - Having been successfully implemented in one of the toughest inhabited terrains with demonstrable outputs, this solution has the potential to be replicated in other Govt Schools and affordable private rural schools of India

 

DigiLab – Current Implementation Partners

·        Solar Generation and Storage –Solar Energy Partners Simpa Networks

·   Software and Content – Custom built 17000 ft Educational App and Facilitator with Ed Tech Partners Convegenius Systems

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