Vibal also introduced on Monday two low-cost tablet models aimed at schools and universities in the Philippines, which are slowly shifting to tablet-based education to remedy the patent lack of books and resources in the education system.
The two public launches were part of Vibal’s ongoing assault into the digital education market, which started with its establishment of the Vibe E-Bookstore sometime in 2011.
Gaspar Vibal, CEO of Vibe Technologies, the technology arm of publishing behemoth VIBAL Publishing House Inc., told the audience of the Digital Education Conference at the Philippine Normal University that what they are building with Vibe is an ecosystem for digital learning.
“The tablet age is upon us,” Vibal remarked. “It is something unavoidable, something that consumers are bringing into their homes, and is something that students are already bringing to school.”
Besides the mobile applications they have released in the past years, Vibal said the Vibe ecosystem now also comprises of: the portable V-Smart School Server based on the cloud; the V-Smart Teacher Dashboard; the V-Smart Student Dashboard; and the E-Textbook Reader as well as the E-Bookstore.
So, aside from deploying the tablets into the classroom, Vibal is also enabling the backend that allows teachers and students to effectively teach and learn through digital means.
The V-Smart School Server, for example, is for schools that have slow Internet connection or those that have none at all. The content from Vibal’s Vibe E-Bookstore are actually stored centrally in a cloud server, so having a portable server in the classroom means students would no longer need an Internet connection to access the books.
Using the server, teachers can also digitally administer exams to the students using the tablet through an application called Test Guru. It also enables a feature in the ecosystem called Social Stream, which is a way for students to connect with their teachers through their tablets, or a venue for teachers to share best practices with other teachers.
Vibal said they have decided to go the cloud route so that the books wouldn’t have to take so much space on the tablets, leaving more room for other applications that could enhance the student’s learning.
Vibal also brought in two tablets during Monday’s conference: an 8-inch tablet meant for students and a 10-inch model designed specifically for teachers. They are worth P11,999 and P12,999 respectively, to the collective amusement of the audience.The 8-inch model is powered by a 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos 4 Dual-Core mobile processor, the same one used by Samsung in its Galaxy S II smartphone. It comes with a capacitive multi-touch display; 1GB of RAM; 4GB of internal storage space; WiFi and Bluetooth; front and rear cameras; and a 6200 mAh battery, which could last up to five straight hours of continuous use.
Vibal said they were able to bring the price down by partnering with a manufacturer in China. He emphasized that making the price low is essential especially for public school settings that have limited budgets.
He added that they are about to pilot the tablets in June in cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Education (DepEd), who would roll out 600 10-inch tablets to Grade 1 students across the country.
The tablets will be loaded with interactive Math and Science modules as part of the initiatives of the DOST to improve public education in those areas.
With such a deployment, these schools join other educational institutions such as the De La Salle Green Hills and St. Paul College – Pasig in pioneering the use of tablets in classrooms, as part of the move to Education 2.0.