What is this i-School all about?

Kailash Shongbhen Rai.
M.Sc. (Organic Chemistry), B.Sc. PGCE, PGCTIS,    ANC.
Bajothang Higher Secondary School.

onorable Prime Minister, His Excellency Tshering Tobgye envisaged an ICT enabled knowledge generating, educated citizens in our society, at par with anyone current, progressive and productive. The result; i-School project was conceived, designed and devised with-in a very short gestation period with a huge dream. This dream will be one of the most revolutionary in the history of Education System of Bhutan. This little migration from chalk and talk to nearly Si-Fi mode of high end technological teaching learning system is by itself an achievement. What was Neil Armstrong’s foot to moon could be i-School project to our Education System. Its small but its very very big!!!
The Ericsson Company has undertaken this project as a Corporate Social responsibility to nurture and realize Honorable Prime Minister’s vision. The high end gadgets, state of the art facilities like Eagle eye cameras, smart board, i-podium, document cameras, AV systems, smart panels, laptops, smart projectors, logistics and engineering were provided by Ericsson. Co-laterally, Bhutan Telecom and Druknet are other two stake holders, who provided with Fiber Optic lines with 10 Mbps band high-speed Internet services to enable seemingly real-time, online video conferencing facilities, let alone internet aspects. They are also responsible for providing professionals for commissioning of fiber optic lines, splicing, grafting and terminating at desired locations, installing media converters, smart routers and gate keepers, assigning them with IP addresses and securing them with leak proof ambience.
This is in pilot phase with the project encapsulating six schools at different locations. Pelkhil School in Thimphu is classically named as Master School. This is being the nodal point, from where teaching and delivery of lesson takes place. The lesson delivered are being captured by the cameras and are served to other five classes at participating schools online and real-time; Tendruk HS School, Bajo HS School, Khuruthang MS School, Khatshadrapsu MS School and Phuntsholing MS School. And also the lesson is being recorded and archived at one of the data-centers servers at Druknet. The proposal for formation of content moderating and editorial board would allow live streaming of the classes to the internet, thus allowing concept of truly public and global viewing to come in prospective in future.
The classes are normal except that single teacher from one point can reach hundreds of students at geographically different locations through video conferencing facilities. All these happen on a jiffy, real time online and face-on. As of now Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics and English are being taught over this provision.
Apart from the regular curricular lessons, these schools may convene meetings and conferences, seminars, to discuss various aspects of this system of teaching-learning experiences. They also can collaborate and invite guest lecturers from any corner of the world in near future. My imagination is an erudite professor from Princeton or Havard, Standford or MIT talking to our students. I know I am dreaming, but it could not be very far away, anyway.
I have seen billions of glitters in students’ eyes through my short period of teaching life. This time, I have seen brighter ones as well. Students are excited, engaged and collaborative in learning not only lessons taught but also cultural exchange, sharing of ideas, quipping of wits, smarting each other and on top of this pyramid stands the rippling fractal of connecting friendship.
The formal launching of this program took a fly on March 29, 2014 at 9:15 AM at Pelkel School, Thimphu. This occasion was graced by Honorable Prime Minister, Dignitaries from Ericsson, CEO Bhutan Telecom, Director of Department of School Education and professionals. It was a moment, yet another step towards modernity in all its right. A moment when teachers started burying their boards and chalks, tending to nostalgic memories of them.

And yet another historic moment of this journey was the providential gracing of the i-class by the His Majesty, the Druk Gyalpo and Her Majesty, the Gyaltsuen at Tendruk HS School, while the English class was delivered from the Master School on the April 1, 2014. By itself, it is an inspiration to walk little taller.

A posteriori:  i-School solution is not about replacing contact teaching with technology. It’s a tool to enliven teaching – learning process through collaborative pool of expertise to give edge to teaching profession. 


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