Western Cape Education Department- South Africa

Western Cape Education Department- South Africa

The Requirement

The WCED has a shortage of teachers and has therefor being looking for a solution that enable existing teacher resources to be magnified to larger audiences while at the same time maintaining interactivity between teachers and students.

The department wants the ability to have one teacher teaching multiple classes simultaneously within the school. Furthermore, they want the ability to broadcast lessons between schools and between districts. A school with a great maths teacher could then share the lesson with another school that may be struggling with maths. Or the district office could radiate special tutoring classes to schools within their district.

With the onset of Covid, the department also wants the ability to allow learners or teachers with comorbidities to conduct or attend classes from home. The solution must therefore also allow for a teacher to teach a class of students from her home or for a student to receive a lesson on any devise from anywhere.

The Challenge

The primary challenge of such an exercise is bandwidth. Cloud based solutions like Zoom, Google Meets etc all require an individual video stream between each participant and the external server. Now imagine having 30 students in the school’s computer room receiving a remote lesson. This would mean 30 live video streams leaving the school, choking their bandwidth, and negatively impacting the transmission.  

The secondary challenge is usability. All the platforms mentioned above are conferencing platforms designed for communication between businesspeople. These are not purpose-built teaching platforms; they are not intuitive for children to use and they require a painstaking invite system to get into the session.

The Solution

With React, the software is installed on the WCED’s central server. We then install a piece of software called a reflector at each school and point all the laptops and pc’s in that school towards this reflector. By doing it this way, we can have unlimited devises on the school’s LAN communicating with each other with no impact on the school’s data cap and at no cost. 

Furthermore, if the school is receiving an external lesson for example, then all the participants on the LAN are grouped into a single video feed at the reflector. This means that an unlimited number of participants on the school’s LAN can communicate with the outside as if they were a single participant.

The Department has full control. They manage participants, assign rights, and access and add venues/classrooms as required.   

No more session Id’s and passwords each you want to have a lesson. Each school is allocated a number of virtual classrooms which are used in the same way you would a brick and mortar classrooms, with timetables and schedules for each subject or grade.

The Conclusion

React solves the bandwidth and usability issues normally associated with Interactive Distance Learning as a simple, intuitive, and affordable solution that has been specifically designed for this purpose and that has been in daily use since 2001.