Enterprise IT Consultant Views on Technologies and Trends

Aug 16 2010   2:08AM GMT

Schools 2.0 – Intel’s Educational Appliance

Sasirekha R Profile: Sasirekha R

Schools 2.0 – Intel’s Educational Appliance

Appliance, both physical and more so the virtual ones – I believe – would form a key part of IT Landscape especially onsite within the enterprises data center (refer to earlier blog http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/enterprise-IT-tech-trends/it-appliances-in-enterprises/). While exploring these appliances in the organization context, came across this Educational Appliance from Intel which I found to be quite interesting and hence sharing the details. Though it is right now meant for schools and that too in places where the communication infrastructure is not established, the idea is so simple and yet powerful that it can even influence the way Knowledge management in Enterprises are handled.

Intel’s educational appliance (part of the Intel’s Learning Series Alliance initiative) is the turnkey school solution that is built and marketed by Critical links. Prof. Chris Dede, member of the National Educational Technology Plan Technical Working Group that has released the Educational Technology Plan 2010 is an Advisory Board Member at Critical Links.

Highly interactive and personalized learning experience (also referred to as 1:1 learning) is the key aspect of today’s world and this educational appliance promises to make this true across classrooms and schools around the world.

This appliance has now been widely deployed in Portugal as a part of their Ministry’s School Modernization program. With this, now students there are able to access wikis, blogs and other content without having to connect to the Internet.

The School 2.0 alliance – which is one of its kind – comprises leaders in the value chain for Schools 2.0 whose aim is to develop the next generation of schools by providing a strategic ecosystem that will deliver the ICT Infrastructure and the applications. Being a one-stop shop that offers the complete solution – “School in a Box” – is expected to simplify the implementation significantly. 

The appliance has application software which includes learning management system (LMS), student information systems, a web server, wiki and forum support, backup and image management software, IP telephony, interactive whiteboard management software. The Appliance also handles DHCP, content filtering and intrusion protection.  It is managed through a simple web interface requires very little hardware or software expertise in the school staff. It even allows students to safely access school resources from home.

The 3 core areas of the Appliance to provide an integrated educational solution:

(1) Learning – The box enables wikis, blogs, forums, and chat. It contains a complete learning management system, integrates with interactive whiteboards, allows screen sharing between teachers and students, and can stream presentations to student computers.

(2) Networking – The box provides a gamut of communication capabilities (using edgeBOX) between a student and the teacher, amongst students using voice, email, video, blogs, bulletin boards, web, instant messaging, conferencing and other available mechanisms.

(3) Administration – Provides a simple interface to manage the communications and collaboration capabilities, including assigning student access, setting up and enforcing security policies. Administration also offers the management of printers, storage and other shared resources.  It also provides the ability to set up student records with personal information, class schedules and performance assessments.

The company plans to offer education appliances that can scale up to 1000 concurrent users, provide school-wide capabilities, integrated with other systems like Library, Cafeteria, Accounting/Administration, as well as serve as the gateway for external communications.

The Open standards, industry-standard web tools usage, virtualized environment, platform independence allowing use of both Windows and Linux are all in line with its objective of providing a worldwide solution. Education in future is sure to exploit the latest trends in technology and communications and appliances such as these make it possible for these benefits available globally.

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