Sunday, June 26, 2016

Microsoft and DepEd Hatch EGG - Self-Contained Classroom for Remote Areas in the Philippines

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Leading the launch of Microsoft and Department of Education's EGG, a mobile and self-contained classroom with Internet connectivity and its own water and power system, on June 24, 2016 at the DepEd Main Office are DepEd Undersecretary Rey Laguda, David Tapang Microsoft Philippines’ Education Lead and Microsoft Philippines’ Managing Director Karrie Ilagan.

This is not the first that a similar effort has been conceptualized by other organizations (both private and public) but what's new here is that the Internet connectivity will be coursed through the Whitespace technology (the unused VHF and UHF TV channels) which were recently made available when San Miguel Corporation (SMC) sold the 700 MHz frequency to telecommunication companies Smart/PLDT and Globe. Also, the Atmospheric Water Generator (AWG) technology (a device that extracts water from humid ambient air. Water vapor in the air is condensed by cooling the air below its dew point, exposing the air to desiccants, or pressurizing the air. Unlike a dehumidifier, an AWG is designed to render the waterpotable) is being used to provide the water system, and solar panels for the power system.

Microsoft has also supplied Lenovo tablets for 16 seats and another 1 for the teacher or instructor. However, the seating capacity of the EGG can be maximized up to 32 students. The EGG also has a huge LED monitor to be used as additional tool in replacement of blackboards or whiteboards.

The EGG mobile classroom can completely run off-the-grid and can also double as a storm shelter for emergency cases. Below are illustrations to further show the details of the contents and functions of the EGG.

David Tapang, Microsoft Philippines’ Education Lead, talks about the contents of the EGG

David Tapang, Microsoft Philippines’ Education Lead, talks about the technologies located at the back of the EGG

David Tapang, Microsoft Philippines’ Education Lead, discusses the EGG

DepEd Undersecretary Rey Laguda talsk about the Department of Education's participation in the EGG project

Here is the official press release:

To bring quality education in far-flung areas that have no electricity or connectivity, the Department of Education (DepEd) has teamed up with Microsoft Philippines in launching the EGG – a self-contained classroom that can be transported to remote areas, generate its own water and power system and has internet connectivity.

The EGG can accommodate more than 30 students and can be easily set up within three days and is an innovative approach that addresses the archipelagic nature of our country where delivering education to every nook and cranny is a real challenge.

A self-sustaining, fully functional learning facility, the EGG can be dropped-off by helicopter, truck, or boat anywhere in the country and can be set up by the villagers themselves.

“We believe now is the perfect time to fully harness the power of technology and help Filipino learners get a 21st century education through connectivity for all and Microsoft is glad to be spearheading this initiative with DepEd.” said Karrie Ilagan, General Manager for Microsoft Philippines.

The EGG is equipped with IT tools that aid both students and teachers. It can serve as an independent classroom or can be connected and stacked together with other EGGs to form clusters, pop-up classrooms, or a whole school. It has adaptive reuse and it can also be used as a storm shelter for the areas where they will be deployed.

Designed to be fully independent, the EGG generates its own power through solar panels found on top of its roof and collects rainwater that can be used to irrigate the land it is on or to be filtered as drinking water.

To further provide students with quality learning tools, the EGG is connected to the internet via TV White Space—the unused VHF and UHF TV channels that can be used to deliver broadband access over wider areas. Its excellent range and obstacle penetration characteristics make it a better option for connectivity in the provinces where schools are far away from telecommunications cell sites.

The first EGG will be launched in Bohol in July. More EGGs are expected to be deployed as DepEd looks to implement them in provinces across the country.

I sure hope this project will be sustained all throughout and not just on a short time basis just to showcase a possibility. The new administration should continue this project as there really are still too many areas within the Philippines that are isolated from civilization depriving them of access to good and quality education that can be brought about by advance technologies present in the EGG.

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