How the Amity group leverages UC to achieve its goal of providing uniform education

Amity Group, like any other multi-location educational institution, had its own unique challenges in serving a large student base spread across numerous campuses. The objective of providing equal opportunities to all its students was a difficult task that was achieved with the help of live classroom transmission on a unified Intranet

Amity Group believes in the concept of uniform education and equal opportunities to students of all campuses, irrespective of where they are enrolled. One of the biggest challenges in achieving this vision was the scarcity of good faculty, and the difficulty of making them available at the right place, at the right time. Amity was looking for a solution that served multiple objectives and helped it get past the hurdles to achieve its vision.

JS Sodhi Amity

“Firstly, we needed to find a way to provide uniform education resources to all locations at minimum IT infrastructure and skilled power. We also had to ensure the availability of all IT resources with/without Internet, on local network at all locations,” says Dr JS Sodhi, CIO, Amity Education Group.  Additionally, it had to establish a single gateway for all the locations for making the network more secure. Finally, Amity wanted to develop a portal for news bulletin, activities, etc, with the complete database of all Amity students at a common place.

REALIZING THE GOAL OF UNIFORM EDUCATION
To address the biggest roadblock in its vision of uniform education—scarcity of good faculty and ensuring their presence in all classrooms and campuses—Amity Group undertook an innovative project to enable live classroom transmission on unified secured intranet. It implemented MPLS connectivity for all its campuses through WAN connectivity, so that all campuses remain in continuous contact with the main university head office. A uniform audio-video two-way connectivity with minimum cost was established. The audio, video, and PowerPoint presentation transmission is done through an eLearning solution over the MPLS network.

Today, all the locations are connected via MPLS, and thus are on the local LAN. Each location logs on the eLearning software as a participant and the location where expert faculty delivers the lecture logs in as a presenter. The output including PowerPoint presentation, video (captured by a webcam), and audio at the participant location is transmitted in the classroom through the LCD screens.

The other way communication happens through IP camera, which enables presenter to view multi-screen of different locations. The presenter can view all the participant locations through multi-camera viewer on a single screen and can also listen other way communications through audio attached to the camera.

“Through eLearning live classroom transmission software we could share our intellectual resources among all our campuses all over India which are connected via the MPLS network. Now, students can take part in interactive sessions which are delivered by the highly qualified and experienced people in their respective fields,” says Sodhi.

As a part of the project, Amizone interactive portal was also created as the central database of all students with individual login IDs to interact with faculty and management for any academic or non-academic issues.

COST BENEFIT ANALYSIS
A noteworthy point is that the Amity Group did not have to incur any additional cost for the implementation of the project. “This is a zero cost project,” reveals Sodhi. The benefit of the multi-party two-way video conferencing has been achieved through an in-house developed concept of different technologies: eLearning, IP camera, and MPLS. “There is no add-on cost of this project as e-learning software and IP camera was already deployed and used for distance education and general surveillance purpose respectively,” he adds.

BREAKING THE PHYSICAL BARRIERS IN LEARNING
This solution has given an equal opportunity to students of all the campuses to listen and interact with different domain experts and industry professionals on a regular basis. It also helped in efficient utilization of resources. “It is practically not possible for various domain experts and industry leaders to visit all our campuses for delivering special lectures or sharing their thoughts with students, whereas we wanted to give this experience to all Amity students wherever they may be studying,” explains Sodhi.

The project helped remove physical barriers and a single lecture from a top CEO can now be transmitted on
Amity MPLS and thus be listened by multiple Amity locations with a complete two-way interactivity. The solution reduced the cost and time of traveling without compromising on the benefits. The USP of the project is that the desired results of transmission of live classroom/event has been achieved by using the mix  of two existing different solutions (e-learning and surveillance camera) without any use of video conferencing equipment. eLearning software is typically used as a model wherein the faculty sits in the studio and the lecture is transmitted to distance students. However, as an innovative concept, the same solution has been used for teaching in live classroom together with live transmission.

“Also, the concept of live classroom recording and archiving and making it available to students for future reference is an innovative concept being used for the first time in the country,” adds Sodhi.

These recordings are accessed not only by students who miss a particular lecture, but are also referred by teachers to strengthen their lecture delivery. With this implementation, Amity has demonstrated how educational institutions with multiple campuses can ensure quality education at all the locations, with minimum IT infrastructure and cost

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