Ebasta: Schools books to e-books

Ebasta is a project being implemented by CDAC — Mumbai and Chennai centres. Ebasta is a combination of 3 ideas. Firstly, it provides a web portal linking the publishers, the teachers and the students on a single space. Publishers, well, share their e-resources on the portal (http://www.ebasta.in). Teachers can browse all these e-resources, and prepare a bundle of resources for their wards. They can take not only textbooks, but also reference materials, supplementary resources, and even story books. Students can then download the prepared bundle.

Screenshot from 2015-11-27 21:01:09A bundle of such a nature spanning almost a dozen subjects in a school environment, means a large number of electronic files. On a laptop or a tablet that the student may be using, this is a recipe for confusion and frustration. When these are mixed with myriad other files that he/she may download, the situation is quite bad. Also remember that, the websites name their download files for their convenience. For example, NCERT files are named using a coded naming convention. Other sites use their own codes and conventions. This complicates locating of a file into a hard task.

This is where the second idea comes. We introduce the concept of an e-basta — a structured, virtual bag. The bundle can be organised into a hierarchy, like having pockets/compartments in your bag. The teacher can create a bag with as many compartments, and sub-compartments, as he/she likes. And finally the actual books or e-resources can be inserted into these pockets. This puts all the related items together, and are placed at a fixed place relative to the bag. The third pocket contains maths resources, for example. It is this kind of structured bag, the ebastas, that the portal offers to the student for downloading.

Closely related to this context is the third idea. An app on the tablet device who understands this concept. This saves the student from dealing with any files directly, let alone their names and extensions. The app understands ebastas on the tablet, sets them up suitably, and shows very intuitive names for the various folders and resources — these names are as defined by the teacher creating the bastas, and not the publishers or writers. Once an ebasta is downloaded to the device, the app takes care of everything.

A key driving principle behind ebasta is that difficult to get sustained Internet connection for most of the school going students. Therefore, along with the ebasta download, we set up the whole system, so that, no further Internet connection is needed for reading/referring to any of the resources. The publishers relying on digital rights management to protect their resources from piracy is advised to use only device specific and time specific information for this purpose, so that Internet access is not needed when reading books.

We have most of the State Boards slowly coming on board, and even publishers have expressed interest in coming on board — some are already on. So, we will be having a wide collection of authentic e-resources, relevant to school syllabus in the portal. What are you waiting for? Get your resources on the portal — if you are a publisher, or a Board. Browse the resources and ebastas and download whatever you like, if you are a parent, or a student. If there are priced books, remember you will be required to make payment, before the download is given.

Like the work, the concept, etc? No? Tell us why, either way? And share your thoughts and suggestions also.

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