EduSat Communication network is a new form of informal education with the help of Satellite, named EduSat (Education Satellite) This satellite is fully dedicated for Educational purpose in our country. It is on 2004 September 20th the satellite was launched in space by ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization). It has a C- band national beam, a Ku bank National beam and Five Ku Band regional beams. It intends to promote all types of education in our country and distribute education to the people of all walks of life. It also supports curriculum-based education, effective teachers training and community participation.
Vigyan Prasar has established an EduSat two way Audio – Video interactive communication network in association with Development and Educational Communication Unit (DECU) of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Ahmedabad. It is mainly proposed for science communication/ science popularization purpose and also for disaster management. Twenty states of our country have been included in the first phase of this project. At present all these states have one each field centers. The state council or department of science and technology of respective states identified a field centers. All field centers have Satellite Interactive Terminals(SITs) which were set up by the help of DECU – ISRO. Vigyan Prasar started its multicast through this network on 3rd January 2006.
Vigyan Prasar has a well-prepared studio for EduSat Interactive Netwok. In this entire network, this studio is called as Teaching end. All other SITs spread over 20 states are known as class ends. Since ours network is a two way communication system, the subject experts or teachers who conduct classes from the teaching end can see and interact with the people or students who sit at each SITs. Students or the people of each SITs can also see and hear teaches and ask their doubts or questions also through the same way. Even though the teacher and students are not within four walls of a classroom, they can interact each other as they are in a same location. Really it is countrywide classroom. Transmission through this network is called multicast.
Suppose a teacher want to distribute some notes to the students or students want to submit some report for valuation to teacher. Is there any option in our network? Surely, There is an option called file transferring. Since we use Personal Computers (PCs) for multicast in our network and everything transmit in digital format, it is possible to send computer files through network. So teachers and students can share their notes, pictures, graphs etc as computer format files within seconds.
You might be interested to know the technical arrangement in our network and how it work? Yes, Our network contain Personal Computers, Digital Cameras, DVD players, Switchers, Modems Dish antennas etc etc .At teaching end we have two PCs, Digital Camera , DVD player, Switcher , modem, sound systems, Dish Antenna etc. One PC is called Multimedia Server, which is loaded with a software call VLC. This software is used to control the transmission. Other PC is called presentation PC, which is used to present the notes, slides, prepared by teacher. Digital Camera use to get the image of teacher and can control remotely. A high quality DVD player is also included to show some recorded movies whenever necessary. Presentation PC, DVD player and Digital camera are attached to the switcher and the switcher is used to select which of signal come among Presentation PC, DVD player and Digital camera etc. The presenter PC has a digital monitor that can be used as a ‘White Board(Not Black Board!)’. Teacher can write texts or draw pictures using a digital pen on this white board and this image also can be transmitted to students end. A mic is directly attached to Server. Finally the mixed out put send to the modem through server computer. Modem converts the digital inputs to analog form and send to dish antenna through high quality cables. Dish antenna is pointed to EduSat and the signals will be send to EduSat which is 36000 Kms away from earth..
EduSat will reflect this low power beam to ISRO Hub. There it will be boosted and send back to EduSat. It is this boosted beams will be send to the dish antennas of all SITs located in different parts of country.
In each SITs also there will be a dish antenna, modem,web camera, mic, sound systems and Personal Computer. The signals reach modem from Dish Antenna is in analog form. It will be converted into digital format by modem and send to PC. PC is loaded with VLC software. Using this VLC software, multicasting programs can be viewed
Images and sounds from students end also communicate to the teaching end through same way. But it is not VLC software, but Windows Net Meeting software is using for this purpose.
Our network also has the option of ‘chatting’. Using this facility both end can send their questions and answers in text / typed form also.
As Vigyan Prasar’s EduSat Communication Network, other Institutions such as Indira Gandhi Open University (INGOU), New Delhi, Center for Education Consortium (CEC), New Delhi etc also have communication net works using EduSat facility. Among them, each network can be identified by a multicast address. We have the address 188.8.131.52
Vigyan Prasar multicast classes and discussions on science subject on every Tuesdays from 11 AM. Scientists and subject experts from Vigyan Prasar and other institutions lead classes. Our atmosphere, weather, astronomy and eclipse, Nature, E_learning, Ham Radio communication etc are few examples of classes took place through this network. Vigyan Prasra also coordinate VIPNET clubs and Nature Clubs with the help of this network. Special programs on request of states also conducted. On request of Kerala, Vigyan Presar multicasted programs on ‘Weather’ and ‘Radio Frequency and Electromagnetic Pollution’ for children who were participated a summer camp (May/2006) at the science and Technology museum, Trivandrum.
We receive immense response and encouragements from participants and co-ordinators from various states. In many occasions, scientists and eminent personalities from each states attend multicast programs with children at class ends. We are also happy to accept their suggestions and contributions. As the second phase, we proposed to set up 30 more SITs in different states especially those states not included in the first phase of project.
One may think what is the relevance of such educational networks when Internet exists! Of course, Internet is a pool of information. One can go to an Internet Café and browse knowledge. But when one needs a live guidance from a real expert, does Internet work suitably? Can Internet provide assistance regarding all issues such as an epidemic or natural calamity relating to one’s background and region? The answer is ‘No ‘, most of times. It is the freshness and two-way communication ability distinguishes EduSat Communication Network from Television, Radio, and Internet etc.