European Space Agency

SWAY4Edu2 – Satellite way for education 2

Objectives

 SWAY4Edu2 is a spin-off of Sway4edu (click HERE to be re-directed to the Sway4edu project web-page) and it aims at pursuing the following objectives: 

1.     Realisation of an additional cluster of 12 satcom-enabled schools in the rural area of Mpumalanga in South Africa and 1 school (3 classes, about 75 students) in a rural area of the Basilicata Region (Italy) for the development of competences in IT and in the preservation of the natural environment. The main objectives can be summarised as follows: 
  • Assist rural children and teachers to be more techno savvy and become aware of the benefits that information and communication technologies bring with them
  • Develop awareness amongst local youth, as well as amongst the wider community members, of the importance of preserving their local wildlife heritage and to adopt a more sustainable approach to daily living. This is crucial for Singita and SA government to keep tourism, the local communities and the conservation of the environment in harmonised balance
  • Implement and validate a set of pilot edutainment services (e.g. small digital cinema in the classrooms, radio channels) to foster awareness and facilitate the utilisation of the system by the local communities
  • Creating "twinning" activities between the South African schools and the Italian school to exchange educational, cultural and linguistic experiences
  • Develop a partnership with the European and South African industry and partners to establish a scalable and sustainable service to meet the above objectives on a wider deployment scale 
2.   Realisation of an additional  cluster of  20 satcom-enabled radio stations in the rural area of the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to: : 
  • Expand the current network of rural radio stations deployed in Sway4edu with additional 20 pilot sites to promote the “cloud” service, which allows radios to generate their own radio programmes and to share them online with the other radios, enabling collaborative post-production of the content before final FM broadcasting to the local communities.
  • Develop added value applications for the rural radios via podcasting in order to support the access to stored audio content associated to local adverts via WiFi points of presence
  • Develop a partnership with FAO, the European industry and DRC partners to establish a scalable and sustainable service to meet the above objectives on a wider deployment scale 
3.   Realisation of an Outcomes Assessment System which will be developed and utilised to efficiently monitor (i.e. from Europe but also from local sites) and in near-real-time: : 
  • The utilisation figures of the end-users (e.g. completed courses, volume of traffic over Internet, access to the different applications) at each pilot site. 
  • The technical operational status of key hardware devices   (e.g. satellite terminals, power supply units, PCs, tablets) at each pilot site.

Challenges

The project implementation requires a very active and committed involvement of all local partners and stakeholders, who have to take the ownership of all the activities required on their side. 

The effective participation of pilot users to the eLearning activities represents de-facto the most important challenge. During the previous experience of Sway4du, the very low ICT skills and the lack of time of the pilot users was the biggest barrier that had to be overcome to achieve satisfactory results and pave the way for important commercial results. 

This key-issue is mitigated by the selection of highly motivated end-users, local ICT trainers and by the development of the Outcomes Assessment System, which will allow the European consortium and the local stakeholders to easily and quickly monitor the user participation over time and against possible technical impediments. This will also allow to take prompt and effective countermeasures against non-satisfactory utilisation patterns.

Benefits

As similarly done within the Sway4edu project activities, via the Openet Training Platform, Openet aims at aggregating additional typologies of capacity building activities in order to consolidate its position as service provider in the African continent.

Features

The system architecture of Sway4edu2 is based on the Sat3play platform with satellite Internet connectivity provided by SBBS on A4A satellite.
 
The pilot sites are connected to Internet and to the Openet eLearning platform (www.openetlearning.net) via small satellite terminals (0.75m dishes in Italy and 1.2m meter dishes in Africa countries). 
 
Pilot users get access to the services via standard laptops and tablets and can share lessons in classrooms via a projector and a screen.
 
The raw content is sent (e.g. via FTP) to Openet by the content providers. Openet adapts it and makes it available online to all pilot users via its eLearning platform.
 
If needed, large volume content (e.g. files bigger than 100 MBytes) can be directly multicast to all pilot sites during nights.
 
 
Figure 1 - Typical main network architecture

Plan

The project activities were kicked-off in  February 2014. 

The consolidation of the user needs, user requirements and system requirements is planned within June 2014, followed in July/August 2014 by the installation activities and  the kick-off of the 12 months pilot stage.

Current status

The pilot activities with the 12 rural schools in South Africa are still progressing with good results, both in terms of technical reliability (which is virtually 100% of the time) of the installed devices and utilization of the system by the teachers and students. 

On 17Jun2015 a launch event took place at Babati school (one of the pilot school) where teachers from all pilot schools, Singita managers, the Minister of Education of the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, other stakeholders and ESA participated. During the event, two live videoconferences have been successfully established between Babati school and respectively Tricarico school in Basilicata region in Italy and ESA-ESTEC. The former formally launched the twining activities between the South African and Italian schools about language and cultural topics, while the latter provide a brief live lecture about ROSETTA in front of the asteroid mock-up in ESA-ESTEC. The Minister of Education expressed her high appreciation for the overall results of the project activities and officially embraced them recommending to equip additional 7 schools to cover all the primary schools of the “circuit”. The Consortium and ESA are assessing its feasibility (e.g. via a CCN) in return of the willingness of the Minister to bear the costs of Internet connectivity to keep the 19 schools connected after the end of the ESA project.

The installation in the school of Basilicata have been completed and the pilot activities will be officially kicked-off in September 2015 with the start of the academic school year.

Regarding the activities for the Rural Radios in DRC, 20 Terminals have been shipped from Europe and they are now being cleared at customs. Installations are expected to be completed in August 2015, shortly followed by the kick-off of the pilot activities. 

Status date

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 07:53