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March 8, 2011

Sharp to Participate in e-Education Proof-of-Concept Trial in India

Sharp Corporation will participate in a proof-of-concept trial for electronic education (e-education) from March 8 to the end of March 2011 at the Indian Institute of Technology*1 Hyderabad to be conducted under the Project for International Expansion of Advanced ICT Business (Ubiquitous Alliance Project)*2 launched by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) of Japan. For this trial, Sharp will provide an e-education system based on Sharp’s one-of-a-kind products, including e-textbooks (textbook content in digital format) on GALAPAGOS media tablets as well as interactive whiteboard touchscreen LCD monitors.

India has enjoyed extremely rapid economic growth in recent years, and this has led to a rapidly increasing demand for higher education. A shortage of schools and teachers accompanying this demand has become a serious problem. To resolve these challenges, the development and adoption of electronic systems for education, as well as implementing remote e-education based on them, is urgently needed in India.

For some time now, Sharp has been working on a joint industry-government-academia project with the MIC and the Waseda University Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies to explore ways to support a shift to electronic education systems in India.

In the proof-of-concept trial, the content of textbooks to be used in courses as well as curriculum information will be downloaded to the e-textbook terminals via a wireless (Wi-Fi) connection to a dedicated remote e-education server. In addition, electronic whiteboards used during class instruction are displayed on the e-textbook terminals. Interactive classes can be conducted by using a microphone and speakers in combination with an electronic whiteboard connected to the remote e-education server even in classrooms where no teacher is present.

This system aims to enable students who are not able to take courses because of a lack of teachers to attend advanced classes.

Sharp will continue to take positive steps toward making e-education a reality using its unique, one-of-a-kind products such as the GALAPAGOS media tablet and its interactive touchscreen LCD monitors, and will help create an environment in which people all over the world can gain access to education on an equal basis.

Conceptual Illustration of the E-Education System to Be Used in the Proof-of-Concept Trial

Figure 1: Remote E-Education Proof-of-Concept System Configuration

Class A attends a course (instructor is teaching class in normal fashion). The same course instruction can also be received by Class B (where no instructor is present).

Figure 2: Remote E-Education Proof-of-Concept Trial Instruction Conceptual Image

Teaching materials on the electronic whiteboard of Class A, plus the audio and annotations from the instructor’s presentation, are shared on the electronic whiteboard of Class B located at a distant site, and are also displayed on the e-textbook terminals of the students.


*1 Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)
  The Indian Institutes of Technology are a group of world-renowned engineering and technology-oriented institutions of higher learning established by the Indian government. They are regarded as the most prestigious tech universities in India, and represent the pinnacle of education in the country. Originally, seven IITs were established around India, but the Indian government decided to set up IITs in eight new locations, and requested that Japan cooperate in the establishment of one of these new institutes. In a joint statement issued on the occasion of a state visit to India in August 2007 by Shinzo Abe, Japan’s Prime Minister at the time, the two parties agreed to study possible cooperation in establishing a new IIT, and to set up a working group to explore how to bring this about (above from the website of Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs). IIT Hyderabad was established in 2008 in the city of Hyderabad as this new institute.
*2 Project for International Expansion of Advanced ICT Business (“Ubiquitous Alliance Project”)
  The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC) has been conducting its “Project for International Expansion of Advanced ICT Business” since 2009. As part of this project, the current proof-of-concept trial is positioned as a model project (“Ubiquitous Alliance Project”) targeting developing countries in three important areas of information and communications technologies (ICT). Together with accelerating international development activities in these three priority areas in the ICT field (1. digital broadcasting; 2. next-generation IP networking; and 3. wireless technologies), the MIC is leading the world in carrying out advanced proof-of-concept trials in new fields that take full advantage of the advanced ICT infrastructure that Japan has to offer. By working to promote education based on the advantageous use of ICT in India, the goal of the MIC is to strengthen global competitiveness of Japan’s ICT industries as well as reinforce the growth dynamic based on ICT through examining technical and system-related issues.

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