Death of distance to liven up learning for disabled

C-DAC to link 100 special schools in South India

C-DAC, Thiruvananthapuram, an autonomous scientific society under the Department of Information Technology, had implemented an EDUSAT-based distance training facility ‘iProspect’ to impart continuing training to special teachers, parents and other rehabilitation professionals as a Proof of Concept (PoC) in Kerala three years ago.

Virtual classroom

Eight special schools in Kerala participated in the programme through a virtual classroom in which a domain expert took classes on topics of interest or led discussion on difficult problems, from the teaching end.

The participants from eight schools took part in the discussions from their own schools, as if they were sitting in a single classroom.

With the success of PoC in Kerala, the Department of Information Technology, has accorded approval for phase–II of the project, which envisages networking 100 special schools in the southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, C-DAC Manager (Technical), Johnny K V, said each of these states would have a teaching end (sub-centre) and Karnataka will have its first centre at St Agnes College, Mangalore.

The schools will get either a Satellite Interactive Terminal (SIT), which will help the participants view and interact with the expert who delivers the lecture in a studio or a Receive only Terminal (ROT).

In the latter case, schools which have installed the equipment can only view the classes and interactions, but cannot themselves interact with the domain expert, Johnny said.
The iProspect incharge at St Agnes College, Sr Marie Evelyn AC, said the entire project was funded by C-DAC and the college had to only provide the infrastructure.

Being a teaching end for Karnataka, the college has to arrange for experts to give sessions on various topics that will benefit the disabled. A schedule of timings will be provided of the programme to be held at different centres. Schools across south India can interact with the expert in case they have SITs and can only view programmes in case they have ROTs. St Agnes College plans to give at least one programme a week, says Sr Marie. The centre may be in full force by mid-September, she added.

Karnataka, like Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, will have four SITs and 10 ROTs, totalling 15, including the teaching centre. Out of 100 schools, C-DAC plans to provide 17 schools with SITs and 80 schools with ROTs.

Other centres

The teaching centre in Tamil Nadu will be established at National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disability, Chennai and in Andhra Pradesh it will be established at National Institute for Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad, informs Sasi P M, Corporate Communications Head of C-DAC, Thiruvananthapuram.

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