1BestariNet: YTL Comms rolls out Chromebooks in 3,000 schools

IT was while rolling out the five-year Phase 1 of 1BestariNet, valued at RM1.5 billion (US$500 million), that YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YTL Comms) realised it had a problem on its hands – one that could potentially harm the impact of the project to stimulate student learning and invigorate how teachers delivered their lessons.

“We found computers that were outdated and running software that was not updated and realised this was a major missing link in what we wanted to do,” says its chief executive officer Wing K. Lee.

“I mean, you have this access and this cloud-based learning platform that allows teachers, parents and students to be involved in the students’ learning process. But you don’t have devices,” he adds.

The access Wing refers to is of course a crucial part of the 1BestariNet initiative where each of the nation’s 10,000 schools, from those in the heart of the busiest cities to those in the rural heartlands, will have access to a 4MB wireless broadband network through YTL Comms’ WiMAX-based YES 4G network. As of end-December 2012, 70% of the nation’s schools have been connected, he says.

The cloud-based platform is the Frog VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), managed by a sister company under the overall YTL stable.

Wing claims that this problem led YTL Comms to a global search for the right solution which it found at the door of Google and its Chromebook, which with its low-cost cloud based services versus the PC-era architecture of the others; instant-on ability; and all-day battery life, was a clear winner to YTL Comms.

Each school will have 41 Chromebooks made by Samsung with 3,000 schools to get them initially. “The first contract,” as Wing describes it, declining to put a value to it. [Update] However, on its website, the Samsung Chromebook is listed at RM1,299; or RM988 under the YES 4G Chromebook Plan, for RM69 per month online casino canada with a monthly 3.5GB data quota. [RM1 = US$0.34].

These schools have to be equipped within the next six months with any further rollout dependant on the response from teachers and students and parents.

But, with the Barisan Nasional having made an election promise that it will provide every student, plus teachers and parents, with a laptop, the irresistible lure of supplying 10 million laptops will be incentive enough for YTL Comms to pull out all the stops in ensuring it goes well, now that the Barisan has been returned to power.

While the Chromebooks are no magic bullet to make teachers more creative in building their lessons, or students more committed and engaged, it does eliminate some tiresome issues with old paradigm technology that gets in the way, the company argues.

For instance, the concept of a fixed room labelled the computer lab is passé. Rather, the Chromebooks can be wheeled into any class and, thanks to the wireless connectivity, that class becomes the computer lab for that lesson.

With each student in the country given a unique YES ID, the Chromebook becomes that student’s personal computer and with it, the lessons and e-books of that student. No more fumbling for thumb drives or sifting through the computer for where they last saved their work – students just turn on the computer and within seconds can access their lessons.

News from: Digital News Asia