Originally published on the Voice of America blog – http://blogs.voanews.com/techtonics/2015/10/02/mobile-learning-plugs-chinas-education-gap/ by Aida Akl on 2nd October 2015
A new Chinese government pilot program is taking aim at the education gap between the country’s urban and rural communities with help from Microsoft Office365 Education and digital classroom platform, Mobiliya Edvelop.
Spearheaded by the China Development Research Foundation, a government think tank, the three-year program is being tested in eight participating schools in Qinghai and Guizhou provinces.
The pilot equips participating students and teachers with tablets loaded with the Edvelop digital classroom platform to allow them to tune in to teachers lecturing to their own classes in urban areas. The platform allows teachers to lecture to two separate classes simultaneously.
Krish Kupathil, founder and CEO of Mobiliya Technologies, an enterprise mobility and educational products company, shed more light on Edvelop in an email interview.
Q. What is Edvelop?
KUPATHIL: Mobiliya Edvelop is a digital classroom platform that consists of various tools like LMS, content authoring tools, course builder, virtual school bag, third-party content store, daily teaching workflows consisting of assignments, tests, notices, events enabling a pre-class, in-class and post-class blended learning environment – a platform that offers all tools that make learning personalized, engaging and great fun.
Q. What operating systems does it run on?
KUPATHIL: … Mobiliya Edvelop delivers a Mobile First experience on Windows 8.1, Android and iOS.
Q. What is the virtual school bag?
KUPATHIL: A unique Edvelop-only feature, the “virtual bag” is a digital library that consists of textbooks and all curriculum books, which can be accessed even in an offline mode. Thus, users can access key study materials and content from anywhere, anytime.
Q. How does the platform help kids in developing countries?
KUPATHIL: Since all the study material is available in a single place, the virtual bag is a great substitute to heavy school bags that students are otherwise forced to carry. Students can easily carry just a tablet to their school instead of bearing the heavy load over a long distance.
Q. How do students go about accessing their material? Do they need special permissions?
KUPATHIL: In Mobiliya Edvelop, the default email of every student is the Office 365 ID. Content is mapped against the respective Office365 ID for each student.
Q. Can kids who leave schools get access later to do their homework, for example, and also make it accessible to the teacher?
KUPATHIL: Yes. Once content is downloaded on a device, students and teachers can access it offline also. Even in case of students doing their homework, they can create or edit documents offline, or even make offline presentations and submit.
KUPATHIL: How easy is it to alter the textbooks (officially and otherwise)?
KUPATHIL: With Mobiliya Edvelop, content altering is easy and manageable within a few clicks. The integrated Content Authoring tool allows teachers to create study material by blending self-generated and third-party content along with textbooks and curriculum content. So, for e.g., Teachers can attach a video or a reference document along with a chapter and share it with students. Teachers can build courses in an MLTP format (Module-Lesson-Topic-Page), to make learning more engaging and personalized.
Q. Digital Rights Management tools (DRM) are controversial and often frustrating. How will the educational material be accessible with minimal frustration for users?
KUPATHIL: Mobiliya Edvelop [includes] DRM technology specifically for IP protection. The technology ensures secure in-house and third-party content access and distribution. All content stored on Mobiliya Edvelop is encrypted with an online-offline access.
Q. How are you protecting the privacy of the students, in particular, as well as other users?
KUPATHIL: … All user data is on Microsoft cloud, which guarantees user privacy. Active Directory enables creating users and set[ting] their roles as admin, teachers and students. Users get access to courses and content based on their roles and hierarchy. So, for example, [a] school [administrator] has full privileges and has complete access and control, while teachers have only read and write privileges. Any content shared by a student is visible only to the teachers and no other user.