Space technology in education Indian context Shyamal Mehta
January 2006

Space technology in education Indian context Shyamal Mehta

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ISRO’s Tele Education satellite EDUSAT providing networks capable of  facilitating live lectures, web based  arning, interactive training, virtual laboratory, databas    cess for reference material/library… may be able to  revolutionalize education delivery process in India

Satellite communications technology offers unique capability of being able to
simultaneously reach out to very large numbers spread over large distances even in the most remote corners of the country. The Indian  Space Programme has always aimed to be second to none in the applications of space technology to deal with the problems of development in our society. ISRO has continuously pursued the  tilization of space technology for education and development. This article highlights the projects undertaken and lessons learnt in the use of  satellite communication to meet the challenge of education and development.
Efforts initiated by ISRO
Over a period of last 30 years,ISRO has initiated several projects/ programmes to cater to the country’s need for education,  training, and general awareness
among the rural poor. These efforts are discussed below. 
Satellite Instruction Television
Experiment (SITE)
The SITE project carried out in 1975-76 provided instructions in the fields of family planning, agriculture, national integration, school education and teacher
training. The ground hardware consisted of Direct Reception  Systems (DRS), for community viewing of the TV programmes. They were installed in six
States of the country in “clusters” of about 400 each for a total  of over 2400 DRSs. The instructional programmes (some  prepared by ISRO) were broadcast
for 4 hours every day covering science education programmes  production, various school programmes and teachers training programme (by the ministry of Education). The programme  re-trained over 50000 teachers was in two 2-week sessions.
Kheda Communication  Project (KCP) from 1975 to 1989

SITE demonstrated that the centralization, inherent in the technology of direct  roadcasting, was a limitation, hence the idea of  “limited rebroadcast” was
conceived, giving birth to the KCP. This involved setting up of a low  power TV transmitter in Pij village, Kheda district, Gujarat and  linking it to a studio and earth station complex, so that it could  relay local programmes (originated
from the studio) or the “central satellite” programmes received at  the earth station. This network used for local village problem  solving received the  IPDCUNESCO prize for Rural   ommunication in 1985.
INSAT system

The Indian national satellite (INSAT) System has been the major catalyst in the rapid  expansion of terrestrial television coverage in India. INSAT is being used to provide Education TV (ETV) Services for primary school children in six states. University Grants Commission (UGC) is  using this for its countrywide classroom programme on higher education (college sector). INSAT is being used by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) for distance education  progammes and Doordarshan for Science Channel progranmmes

Training and Development Communication Channel  (TDCC) ISRO experimented with  TDCC, which supports one-way video-two  way teleconferencing interactive networks for education and  training to introduce interactivity in teaching instructions. Today  TDCC is used exclusively for distance education and Interactive  Training Programmes (ITPs) bystates like Karnataka, Orissa, M.P etc. and by Open universities,  national organisations/institutions, IGNOU, Consortium for  Educational Communication (CEC) and Centre for  Management Education (CME) of all India Management Association and national banks  for providing training and education.  Jhabua  Development  Communication Project (JDCP) Jhabua  Development  Communication Project (JDCP) was carried out in  India in the Jhabua District of  M.P aimed at providing communication support to the  development  activities in the district and also in providing interactive training to  the field officials and the people in general. 
Gramsat Programme (GP)

In Gramsat Programme (GP) TDCC networks were upgraded and all  activities related to satellite  ased  development communication, education, training, healthcareswere grouped into a GP thereby  connecting each village, providing computer connectivity, data broadcasting,  and TV broadcasting facilities for applications like e- Governance, NRIS, teleconferencing, and rural education/ education broadcasting etc.  Disaster management, telemedicine, and recently Village  Resource Centre were added to the Gramsat networks.  Gramsat networks are operational in Gujarat, Karnataka,  M.P. Orissa and  Rajasthan (pilot), Andaman Nicobar,  Goa, H.P., Orissa, Chhattisgarh.  EDUSAT for education While the education institutions of the  country have continuously endeavoured to use the latest technology to support the process  of education, the demands have  been increasing, with the challenge of the day being to stay updated with the changing trends. To help  meet this challenge, ISRO has  taken up the ‘Tele-Education’ by launching EDUSAT, a satellite totally dedicated to the nation’s  need for education. It has a C-band national beam, a Ku-band national beam, and five Ku-band regional  beams facilitating imparting of education in regional languages. EDUSAT will strengthen education  efforts by augmenting curriculum  based teaching, providing effective teachers’ training, and community  participation. Networks based on EDUSAT consist of either receive only (one way communication)  terminals or interactive (two way communication) terminals or both  in national as well as in regionalnetworks. The networks are capable of facilitating live lectures/  power point presentations with student interaction, web based  learning, interactive training, virtual laboratory, video  conferencing, data/videobroadcast, database access for reference material/library/recorded  lectures etc., on line examination and admissions, distribution of administrative information, etc.  The Network is IP based and doesnot need expensive studio facility   end or hub as shown in the figure,consist of two cameras, two PCs, proper lighting, and DVD player (if needed) in addition to the indoor and outdoor units of the  hub hardware. The equipment needed at the interactive classroom  end, consist of webcam, PC, LCD projector, speakers, microphone,  UPS in addition to the satellite terminal. The classroom consisting  of receive only terminal requires a  PC, projector, speakers, UPS in addition to the satellite terminal. EDUSAT utilisation is divided into  three distinct phases: Pilot phase,  Semi operational phase, and Operational phase. Networks for education prior EDUSAT  Prior to the availability of EDUSAT, as a part of Pilot Phase, networks for education were
implemented at three universities :
Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), Belgaum, Karnataka, Yashvant Rao Chavan Open University (YCMOU), Nashik, Maharashtra, and Rajiv  Gandhi Technical University  (RGTU), Bhopal, M.P. using INSAT. Each university was given  its own teaching end and 50 interactive terminals (two way communication) and 50 receive  only terminals (one way communication). These universities are using this network  regularly to impart curriculum based teaching to their students using one way video and two way audio allowing them to interact  with the teacher via satellite from  the classroom with the help of live lectures, web based learning,  power point presentations etc. User interest In the semi operational phase, like in pilot phase, it is ISRO’s  responsibility to manage the  network in collaboration  with the users. So far over  100 proposals  from various user agencies  expressing  their desire to use the
network have  been received. These  proposals  cover full spectrum of education including: primary  education, secondary and high school education, degree college  education, professional/technical education,  distance education,  training, agriculture education, as well as healthcare related learning,  training and general awareness programmes by NGOs.  At present, using EDUSAT, networks for many user agencies  like IGNOU, CEC/UGC, CIET/ NCERT, AICTE, Blind People’s  Association (BPA) or Blind  school, Karnataka school network, VTU, YCMOU, Goa  University, Amrita VRC, Kerala/  Tamil Nadu are operational for a  total of about 1200 terminals or  classrooms. Here, BPA network deserves a special mention because of its  unique nature of  application. The  teaching end is located at the main office of BPA at  Ahmedabad and the classrooms are spread over the  state of Gujarat.

The network  functions in two distinct modes:
data broadcast and audio  broadcast. At the beginning of a class session, relevant data is broadcast using EDUSAT to all the classrooms which print out these  data in Braille format using Braille printer. Theses are distributed to  the students. The teacher then commences his lecture to the  students who already have the  Braille print out of the lecture in their hands. These two put together makes the learning for the blind  students a much more effective and faster. The EDUSAT based  networks of many state governments, universities and  other institutions are in various stages of implementation. In the operational phase, overall  management, day to day operation,  and network upgradation etc. will be the responsibility of a selected  nodal agency and the role of ISRO will be in the advisory capacity.  Acknowledgements The author wishes to thank Mr. B.S. Bhatia, Director, DECU/ISRO for his help in providing material  for this paper and Dr. K.S. Dasgupta, Group Director,  ADCTG/SAC/ISRO for encouragement.

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