| Edusat system
India successfully launched a communications satellite dedicated to teaching Sept. 20,
2004 aboard the third flight of its Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle
(GSLV). The $20 million Edusat spacecraft will link schools and colleges to remote
classrooms in five states in what government officials called a precursor to a nationwide space-based educational service to be in place by 2010.
The 1,950 kilogram Edusat was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at
Sriharikota, 80 kilometers north of here, on the first operational flight of the GSLV.
Following the successful launch of an education only satellite by the government of India,
educators were engaged in regional meetings throughout that country
to ensure that Indian students are ready to compete globally in science, mathematics, engineering, and related disciplines.
The Edusat system is intended mainly for primary through college education but also will support vocational
training, ISRO said in a statement. It is configured for interactive distance learning and will transmit direct-to-home TV-quality broadcasts in different languages. Teacher
training will be among the services provided over the system, which will operate with low cost user terminals.
A major challenge for educators in India, meanwhile, is to provide access to
high -quality instruction in key subject areas, especially in rural and remote areas, explained the Indian Space
Research Organization (ISRO), which launched EDUSAT in late September. India faces a significant
shortage of qualified teachers, ISRO said. EDUSAT aims to connect urban and rural educational institutions throughout India to provide a formal educational
infrastructure and also to help spread knowledge about health and other related issues to more remote areas of the country.
According to Indiaís Ministry of Education, of the nationís 190 million children aged six to 14, only 150 million are in school. There is only one teacher per 71
students, and up to 87 percent of the students ultimately drop out of school.
The satellite will enable distance education to take place throughout India by interfacing with video from each school.
The ISRO satellite program currently covers more than 1,000
schools and is expected to grow to 10,000 schools in the next three years.
India first used satellites to distribute educational programs in the mid-1970s, using the Satellite Instructional Television
Experiment (SITE) to beam programs related to hygiene and family
planning to a large number of Indian villages. India first demonstrated the
space -based distance-learning concept in the mid 1970s using a NASA Applications Technology Satellite.
Subsequent educational telecasts using Indiaís own Insat satellites prompted ISRO to build a satellite dedicated to teaching.
In the early '80s, multiple educational programs were telecast. Because those programs had such success, ISRO formed the EDUSAT Project in October 2002, the group said.
The satellite will be used for learning in many ways, such as beaming local
language instruction programs to address illiteracy. For example, one program allows students to send video questions to any teacher
in any connected classroom, anywhere in India, using a streaming video card over the EDUSAT satellite. The teacher then responds to these questions through
EDUSAT. The satellite also will be used in teacher training. The satellite will use multiple regional beams to cover different parts of India, according to
Schools and teachers using the satellite will be expected to generate classroom content, and ISRO says the quality and
quantity of content ultimately will determine how successful the EDUSAT program is. Five regional conferences have been
organized to help create awareness about the educational satellite and its potential.
Today the INSAT system provides satellite development communication. Besides, efforts like Training and Development
Communication Channel which was also extensively utilized by IGNOU and the
efforts at defining the GRAMSAT system are now leading to the evolution of the Edusat system.
| Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE)
The Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) conducted in 1975-76
was the task bed of satellite broadcasting. Direct Reception TV sets were
installed primarily in about 2400 primary schools or gram panchayats. Programmes
for school children, primary school teachers, and rural audiences were
transmitted to carry education and information to distant and remote villages.
The results not only established the technical feasibility of the configuration
but demonstrated its efficacy in supporting primary education and carrying
development oriented information to rural audiences. The system was used to
provide training to 50,000 primary school teachers. It demonstrated increased
interest and increased vocabulary among students and it showed significant gains
in areas of health, hygiene, nutrition, animal husbandry, political orientation, and modernity.
Training and Development Communication Channel (TDCC)
ISRO introduced the use of one-way video two-way audio
teleconferencing interactive networks for education and training. Such networks cater to specialised
audiences and provide for interaction and are therefore being termed as
interactive narrow casting networks. Three major areas of applications have
emerged. These are distance education, training/continuing education, and training for rural development.
The Indira Gandhi National Open University was one of the early users of the
network, followed by AIMA and other agencies involved in distance education. Of
course, now, IGNOU has shifted the teleconferencing to the Gyan Darshan channel,
but DPEP continues to be a major user of the network. The TDCC networks are being utilised by the State Governments for regular
training of their field staff and of late engineering college networks have been
established in Gujarat and Karnataka to conduct engineering classes over the network.