Sowing the Seeds of Inclusive Education | digitalLEARNING Magazine
January 2013

Sowing the Seeds of Inclusive Education

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Cisco’s CEED platform has been started with the objective of imparting quality remote education to students living in remote and rural areas

A computer scientist with over 25 years of work experience, Aravind Sitaraman, President Inclusive Growth, Cisco, has done pioneering work in several start-ups and high tech companies in the US. He is regarded as one of the leading innovators of Cisco with 54 US patents. He has led and been part of several international standard bodies

Inclusive growth means an economic growth whose fruits are broad-based and leads to the upliftment of a population that is not a part of the mainstream economy. Economic growth is a crucial component of poverty alleviation, and therefore, if there is inclusive growth, there is rapid transformation of all sections of the society. The poor, illiterate and other disadvantaged sections can have equality of opportunity only if there is a time-bound plan for inclusive growth that can bring in transformation.

India has witnessed rapid economic growth in the last few years, but at the same time, it is taking inordinately long for the benefits of this growth to trickle down to the larger population. Most of the rural areas in India lack proper infrastructure for education and healthcare. Hence, inorganic means are required to ensure that the capabilities of all sections of the society are enhanced so that they are able to partake in the overall economic development. These methods of inclusive development contribute to the economic, political and social stability and further accelerate the growth of the nation.

Inclusive education

Cisco has started the Cisco Education Enabled Delivery (CEED) platform to enable access to quality education to one and all. The initiative aims to provide quality remote education, both supplemental and interventional coaching, to students living in remote and rural areas. The students are connected with qualified teachers based in the cities. Using the network as the platform, CEED uses Cisco’s collaborative tools and security technology delivering content out of the cloud and over the video.

A part of a comprehensive, integrated, and open learning platform, CEED is designed to bring collaboration and video to the heart of teaching and learning. In this platform, the power of networking, Internet, video and collaboration tools developed by Cisco get leveraged to create a real-time interactive environment between the remote teacher and the students. It preserves every aspect of a traditional classroom, except for the fact that the remote teacher is not in the same classroom as the students. The main focus is on ensuring that students are provided high quality teaching.

In CEED, students can interactively raise and answer questions using the equipment (screen, projector, speakers, mic and electronic whiteboard). This system of teaching ensures that the same remote teacher is able to teach several classes in different locations. The curriculum is developed specially to ensure that it is easily disseminated through the use of the educational tools and aids that are being used.

In case a teacher or supervisor is present at the rural school, a special instructor is assisted by the teacher in the classroom to increase interactivity in the class, and also so that the instructor can attend to the specific needs of the class. This will ensure that all rural schools offer all subjects with the same level of expert teaching, that a child in a city or a metro gets access to. Along with its ecosystem partners, Cisco is responsible for development, creation and delivery of the coursework which is based on the regular curriculum or syllabus.

Implementations of CEED

The CEED programme from Cisco was initiated as a pilot programme in the villages of Raichur. The success of the Raichur pilot led to remote intervention coaching using CEED deployment at two boys’ hostels in Shimoga and other two in Raichur.  Over 1,000 students have benefited from using the platform. Children of class seven and eight are taught English, Mathematics, Science and Social Sciences across four schools, three times a week by a teacher (remotely from the city), using local vernacular language (Kannada) as the medium of instruction.

Recently, approximately 30 Indian army soldiers in Jabalpur graduated from Cisco’s basic computing and networking skills programme offered through CEED. For training purposes, Cisco’s expert engineers located in Bangalore volunteered their time to train and mentor the retiring soldiers based in Jabalpur in basic networking technology. The employees also donated their personal copies of books for several advanced courses such as Inter- Connecting Cisco Network Devices 1 and 2 (ICND) and CCNA. Cisco set up a practice lab of networking and computing devices.

How does CEED work?

• Teachers sitting at a remote location are connected via the Internet to the classroom using the CEED platform. The remote teacher needs a computer with Internet connectivity, webcam and a digital notepad/electronic whiteboard.

• Remote classrooms need a computer with Internet connectivity, webcam, mic, speakers and a projector.

• The remote teacher and the students in classrooms, to whom the subject/topic is to be taught, log-on at the pre-appointed time to the CEED platform. Several remote classrooms can simultaneously connect to the session at a specified time.

• Students at the remote classrooms can be assisted by their teacher who is on-site. The remote teacher conducts the class. Just like the traditional classroom, students listen to the instructor and raise queries, which the instructor is able to respond to, in real-time.

• Basis the feedback of the teacher on the ground remedial/coaching classes,mentoring etc. can be scheduled as per requirements of a school/cluster of schools.

What are the advantages of CEED?

• CEED requires no special setup.A computer with Internet is all that is needed.

• Teachers and students can be connected from multiple locations (including from home).

• Scales up easily and is great for small-to-large education environments.

• Simple scheduling and registration and click “Join Class” from the home page.

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