The Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society launched the project for introducing digital classrooms into all schools in the Republic of Serbia, called “Digital School”. The idea was to install modern IT equipment in each of nearly
3,000 schools, which will allow further influence of IT on the educational system of Serbia. The unique technical solution based on the so-called “zero clients” and servers run by Microsoft Multipoint Server 2010, made possible fast and efficient introduction
of digital classrooms into schools all over Serbia within the defined budget. This platform ensured also easier and more efficient maintenance, so the number of complaints was reduced to about 2%, and teachers in primary and secondary schools could now introduce
interactive elements into the teaching process and present learning contents in the manner more acceptable for pupils, allowing them for acquire necessary knowledge in a faster and easier way.
One of the challenges recognized by the Ministry and other competent institutions in charge of the educational system in Serbia was the situation with infrastructure of IT classrooms in primary and secondary schools all over the country. “In most schools
computers and related equipment were outdated and not up to meeting the requirements of modern teaching methods, particularly in smaller towns and underdeveloped communities”, says Katarina Anđelković, coordinator for the project “Digital
School”, launched by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society in July 2010, and successfully completed by the Administration for Digital Agenda. Funds for this project, a unique one in Central and Eastern Europe region, in the amount
of about EUR 12 million, were provided by the Ministry from own revenues, license fees for operators and radio and television frequencies that are collected annually.
||Taking everything into account, the technical solution we selected proved to be fully functional.
| Nebojša Vasiljević
Deputy Minister for Information Society
|"Digital School" Project
The main challenge was how to deliver a sufficient number of computers to almost 3,000 schools that had applied for digital classrooms within a relatively short period of time, by the end of the current school year, and stay within the defined budget at the
same time. “The objective was to cover all schools, and to find a solution that is economical and may not be used for any other purposes but in the teaching process”, explained Nebojša Vasiljević, Deputy Minister for Information Society.
Looking for the adequate technological solution, the Ministry could choose between two concepts. The first option involved the use of the so-called “thin clients”, where the user has a computer with reduced capacities, supplemented by the functionality of
the central server. The other option involved the so-called “zero clients”, where entire processing is done by the central server, and the client uses only peripherals – a monitor, keyboard and mouse, connected through a special device to the server that provides
all the necessary computer power.
The other option, significantly less costly one, was decided on, and Microsoft Multipoint Server 2010 was selected for the software platform that will run digital classrooms, as a tailored solution actually intended for use with “zero clients”. This solution
practically turns a standard PC into a server executing multiple instances, providing to all the users the same experience of using a PC with Windows 7 Operating System, but also offering significant savings and possibility to fully control all individual
endpoints. Each digital classroom in this Project was equipped with more powerful computers, connected by a special USB device with four to ten sets of peripherals (keyboard, mouse and TFT monitor).
Centrally located in a classroom, the computer for the teacher allows supervising the work of all pupils/students, and, if needed, blocking the unwanted activities during classes. According to the size of the classroom intended to be a digital one and the
number of pupils/students attending a particular school, the schools were provided with up-to-date digital classrooms with five to 30 workstations, or with a laptop computer and projector for schools with fewer than 40 pupils. “The project “Digital
School” resulted in equipping 2,910 schools, which is more than 95 per cent of all primary schools in Serbia, and we are especially proud of managing to complete the project within the promised deadlines”, underlines Katarina Anđelković.
The computers installed were immediately put to use, primarily in teaching technical and information sciences. “The pupils are much more interested in learning now, when they are presented the contents with the help of a computer”, Jelena Besedić, teacher
of technical and information sciences in the primary school France Prešern from Belgrade points out, and adds: “My job is now much easier, since at any time I can monitor the work of every pupil on my computer.” The pupils also welcomed the introduction of
computers into daily work. “We can learn more easily and get to know out about different things online, find out more details than what we get from books”, says Petar Savić, pupil in Primary School France Prešern.
Opting for this platform significantly reduced the initial costs for procuring hardware for digital classrooms, and the very concept of “zero clients” allowed for much simpler and more efficient maintenance of complete computer classrooms. The percentage
of defects, complaints and thefts was reduced to about 2%, and the establishment of call centre that the teachers “on the ground” could contact at any time doubtlessly contributed to the success of the project. “Taking everything into account, the technical
solution we selected proved to be fully functional, particularly after the upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft Multipoint Server”, underlined Nebojša Vasiljević, Deputy Minister for Information Society.
“ Installation of these digital classrooms meant that we managed to provide, in all schools in Serbia, the base for further development of curricula with the help of information technologies, and we hope that this will bring a major step forward in the use
of information and communication technologies in our country, and also that the pupils and students will acquire skills enabling them to compete on equal footing at the global market”, says Jasna Matić, Statte Secretary for Digital Agenda, during whose term
of office the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society launched and finalized the “Digital School” project.
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