Zee Interactive launches virtual classroom distance education

Zee Interactive Learning Systems Ltd (ZILS), in a pioneering effort which integrates video and television with the interactive capabilities of the Internet, today announced the launch of I-Cell.

A "broadband based interactive learning technology," I-Cell aims to bring the best of expertise to thousands of students at different centres connected via a dedicated V-SAT (very small aperture terminal) network that will help them to see, hear and speak to their teachers live.

The network uses a sophisticated interactive management system customised for the learning applications. It incorporates state-of-the-art features, which ensures both students comfort and teacher control over the virtual classroom environment.

Speaking at the press conference in Mumbai to announce the launch, Uma Ganesh, president & CEO, ZILS, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Zee Telefilms, said: "The V-SAT based interactive systems is yet another initiative of ZILS to achieve our vision of delivering a unique learning experience through technology to multitudes of Indians. ZILS intends to bring about a quantum change in the quality of education in the country, which is facing the constraints of expert faculty and inadequate rigour in academic delivery. An estimated 100,000 students will be able to benefit by this technology in the first phase," Ganesh said.

Besides providing a rich learning experience to the students who enroll in the over 300 Zed Career Academies, " I-Cell " will also be used to support distance education programms of leading universities in the country. "This will transform correspondence courses into collaborative learning actively facilitated by expert faculty in the closed subject," Dilip Mahapatra, director, Learning Centres, said.

The Interactive Learning Technology services of ZILS will also enable high-speed Internet access and download of educational content even in remote parts of the country. ZILS has built a comprehensive portal '' with verticals for school, colleges and corporate which will be integrated with the V-SAT network.

ZILS with this technology plans to offer unique training solutions for employees of corporates, with multiple locations which will not only make the training more effective, it will also save cost of time, travel & other resources, Mahapatra said.

All operations will be coordinated from a central hub in Noida, outside New Delhi, Ganesh said. Initially there will be 30 centres which will go up to 100 within a year and the aim at present is to have 300 centres, Ganesh added.

ZILS organised a real time exercise with an instructor sitting in Noida for the press to show how the concept worked. The potential is certainly immense. There is however, still the problem of broadband delivery. If that issue can be resolved, ZILS is definitely a project which may prove invaluable in the furtherance of education.

There are also statutory issues that have to be clarified. VSNL can take issue with ZILS over its using the Net for voice telephony. VSNL does not condone the independent use of voice on the Net at present.

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