Communication is the key for better Education

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Developing Strong Eduction with Strong Communication

We are so spoiled by newer technologies, and because of that, we always want to do everything online, and real time at that!

We always want to use high technology, but the problem is, we always fall victim to bad connectivity.

Strong Internet Connection

But that is actually a happy problem so to speak, because the low income families among us have no connectivity at all, as in they have absolutely no access to the internet.

Back in those days when I was Director General of the National Computer Center, I have always said before as I still say it now that the so-called “digital divide” is really just an outcome of the very real “social divide”.

When the lockdown order was issued by the government, the immediate reaction of many schools was to move their courses online, a move that was thought to be practical at first, until everyone realized that it was really antisocial, because not everyone had connectivity at home and even if they did, it was very slow and unstable.

So that is how it came to be, that in the interest of levelling the playing field, the noble goal of online learning was levelled to the ground.

But is the situation really that hopeless?

Is there really no solution to the question of having home based learning during the lockdown?

In search of an answer, I asked satellite and telecoms expert Mr. William Sia whether he has a solution or not, and both of us quickly arrived at the conclusion that the answer to the problem of delivering educational content is not the
 first option of using the newer technologies per set, but rather the second option of using a hybrid mix of both older and newer technologies.

Before we go any further, I could not resist the temptation of saying for the record that both the older and newer technologies are using radio frequencies (RF), and that no matter how new a communications technology seems to look, everything is still broken down into packets.

Drawing from his long experience, Mr. Sia came up with the brilliant idea of simply making the older technologies as the default, but purposely mixing it with all the newer technologies that are now available.

What he meant by that is that the default should be live videos of teachers delivered via broadcast television.

He said that it is simply a matter of scheduling what subjects will be broadcasted at what time and at what channel, and the students will be able to tune in to the station of their choice, without worrying about connectivity or the money to pay for the connectivity.

As I understand it, what he meant by the most basic default is free to air television, and not cable television or satellite television.

In reality however, most of the channels available via free to air television is also available via cable or satellite, and also the digital broadcast boxes.

Using any language, this is really what “universal access” is all about, wherein anyone can access anything without any limitations.

And what about those who have internet access also?

That is really more of an opportunity than a problem, because the same learning content that is broadcasted live in the analog channels can also be streamed live via internet protocol (IP), using a technology called “Over the Top” (OTT) programming.

In layman terms, we know that to be Facebook Live and You Tube.

So there you go.

With a mixed solution like this, all students in both the public schools and the private schools could now go back to their learning.

It is now just a question of scheduling who will teach what subject at what time in what channel.

The good news is that, the infrastructure for both solutions are ready and could be used right away.

Billions worth of broadcast equipment are ready to be used, and millions of television sets are rarely being used.

Just as the cable and satellite companies are ready, the internet service providers are also ready, with both wired and wireless choices.

And by the way, the satellite companies have the advantage of offering both broadcast and internet solutions.

I am glad if this ideas will come true that Mr. Ike SeƱeres stated, because this is a long term program that both of us will sure gain benefit.

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