Contributions to service-oriented School-Ecosystem

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Contributions to service-oriented School-Ecosystem

Title Contributions to service-oriented School-Ecosystem
Place Google meet
Date, Time 2021/05/11, 0900-0930
Contact Person Josef.Noll
Participants Josef.Noll, Peter Fagerström
related to Project School Connectivity TZ, BasicInternet
Keywords School Connectivity, GovStack
this page was created by Special:FormEdit/Meeting, and can be edited by Special:FormEdit/Meeting/Contributions to service-oriented School-Ecosystem
Category:Meeting


Purpose and collaborations

Establish a holistic picture of all contributors to a digital school ecosystem. Based on the experiences with projects on school connectivity in Tanzania (see: School_Connectivity_Report_MCIT), South-Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sri Lanka, besides the work with community networks in 11 countries in Africa, we established the mindmap of an integrated approach (see figure 1).

Fig. 1: Integrated Approach for School Connectivity across TZ

A variety of actors is present to establish digital school ecosystems, each of them addressing specific aspects:

  • Project GIGA by ITU & UNICEF focusses on mass-purchase of school connectivity as the means to reduce prices
  • UNICEF establishes the Digital Public Goods Repository (http://DigitalPublicGoods.net) as a base of open-source activities for the digital transformation
  • UNESCO has also a variety of other activities related to education, e.g. the evaluation of learning approaches
  • UNDP supports digital skills through a repository and match-making
  • ITU, CISCO and HP are drivers of the Digital Transformation Centres (DTCs)
  • Commercial actors and NGOs have a proven track record on providing their own portal, as demonstrated through the School Connectivity TZ activities. Actors include Vodacom Tanzania Foundation, UCSAF, TTCL, Shuledirect, Tamisemi, African Child Projects, BasicInternet
  • Nordic EdTech (N8) as part of the Nordic Baltic Cooperation (Opportunity: https://www.nb8grants.org)

Lessons learned is that we need an integrated approach covering (i) Connectivity even in an area with bad mobile coverage, (ii) local content on the school server for enhanced Quality of experience, (iii) training for school teachers and students, (iv) business model for sustainability, and (v) establishing key performance indicator (KPI) framework. In order to satisfy (i) - (v), we envision a future of microservices for education, ensuring that a local ecosystem can be established, including local content providers.

Integrated approach

The integrated approach, outlined in the attached presentation, is an example of the coordinated way in school connectivity in TZ.


Thumb Title Author Date Keywords
Screenshot 2021-04-12 at 11.28.33.png School Connectivity TZ Status Apr2021
Click to Open
SchoolConnectivity TZ 8Apr2021
Catherine R. Kimambo 8 April 2021 School Connectivity


Connectivity

The connectivity solution through a directive and elevated antenna was chosen to (i) achieve connectivity in area with bad mobile coverage, and (ii) enhance the signal to noise ratio (SNR) by typically 18 dB. The solution, further described in BasicInternet:Solutions, offers a reach of more than 20 km in case of line-of-sight (LOS), or some 7-11 km in non line-of-sight (NLOS) areas. The increased SNR contributes to a better bandwidth, utilizing higher coding & modulation on the mobile link.

Local content

The suggested model used for connecting schools is based on a local installation of a school server, carrying the video material and school content. Through the local provision of educational videos, one can achieve (i) a higher Quality of Service with simultaneous streaming of videos and (ii) reduced bandwidth costs. (iii) restricting sites visited by students offered a safe space for teachers and the ministry to trust on our infrastructure

Despite the enhanced link quality, the service still depends on the cell capacity of the often 3G network. Thus, with a cell capacity of 2-3 Mbit/s (Mbps), simultaneous video transmission is practically not possible. Furthermore, video is a bandwidth-intensive application, eating up the total cap of e.g. 10 GB/month rather quickly.

Training for school teachers

Training of school teachers results in higher engagement, as well as lower costs for maintenance. A basic IT knowledge allows quick trouble shooting, thus lowering the costs for a technician to visit the installation. Even more important is the engagement of the teachers,(i) involving them in how they can access content of interest for their lectures.(ii) how to upload contents locally for their students.

Business model for sustainabiliy

The main goal of the School Connectivity is to establish a sustainable business model with focus on affordable operational expenditures (OPEX) of less than 20 USD/month. In countries like Norway, operators (Telenor) offer Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) on the 4G/5G network with 2 TB data volume for 499-999 NOK/month (57-115 USD/month), depending on the speed (10 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s).

Earlier on, a document was established to describe the impact of school connectivity on societal empowerment in Tanzania. The document discusses three components for the business model, being (i) wholesale provision, (ii) license reduction and (iii) regulations. In a discussion with Telecom operators, both a B2B version addressing (i) as well as the net-provisioning addressing (ii) were favoured.

Impact of School Connectivity on Societal Empowerment, see Media:Impact_SchoolConnectivity.pdf

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Fig. 1 shows an outline of KPIs for the assessment. In this work, we focussed on

  • easy access of students and teachers to content
  • number of schools connected to the Internet
  • the ability of Teachers to reach out to content on the Internet
  • the digital empowerment of both students and teachers

Other KPIs such as monitoring student performance are envisaged, but can only be performed on a qualitative basis.

Lessons learned and questions asked (TZ)

The following aspects came up during the School Connectivity TZ activities, based on the wireless Information Spots (InfoSpot) concept by BasicInternet.

  • How can we "top-up" when more than 10 GB is needed?
    A: The operators will open for a B2B contract, needs further discussion
  • Assign educational funds assigned to every school, supporting the installation
  • Students will learn something valuable

Best praxis

  • digital friends, local NGOs assist
  • learning content, made available offline
  • restricting sites that can be visited by the students and teachers
  • direct involvement of the local governments through TAMISEMI

Challenges

  • network fluctuation in completely isolated areas - example: Simanjiro (Emboreet secondary school)
    A: The 3G network is vulnerable to usage, called cell-breathing
  • lack of digital skills to non-IT teachers

Wishes from the schools and follow up:

  • learning platform with teach involvement: teachers can download and make available for all children
  • voucher for e.g. 1h, 4h, 24h access of teachers to the Internet (see BasicInternet:Voucher_Platform)
  • top-up for schools
  • business model for "wholesale", e.g. 100 SIM cards and 1 TB of data per month
  • Reporting back from operators on usage in schools
  • Applicability for Affordable Access in institutions such as schools, hospitals and communities
  • Measuring the usage in the apps (Shuledirect, Vodacom Portal, Internet Lite)
  • Scalability to 1000 and 5000 schools