K-Yan — a compact and portable multimedia device, is a revolutionary tool to facilitate community learning, especially in rural India

More than one third of India comprises children and adolescents, and IL&FS is committed to addressing its challenges and unleashing its enormous potential. The foundation of nation-building is high quality education that fosters a scientific temper in the youth — this has been a core belief of IL&FS. Today over 90% of Indian children are enrolled in elementary school, with the latest figures showing over 96% enrolment in rural India. As India makes significant progress towards universal education, the challenges of quality and effectiveness are greater than ever.

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IL&FS has been working to unleash the potential in India's youth since 1999

Although the enrolment statistics are impressive, the high dropout rates, low attendance figures for both students and teachers, and high pupil-to-teacher ratios belie the daunting challenge of school education in India.

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Small classrooms and good infrastructure are luxuries most Indian schools do not have

Introducing the Knowledge Vehicle

In 2004, through our subsidiary IL&FS Education & Technology Services Ltd (IETS), we developed K-Yan, which Outlook rated as one of the '10 cutting edge Indian technologies that could transform lives across the world'. It has been featured as 'an educational tool that will radically change the way Indian students, especially the poor, are being taught.'

Compared to the 230 million students enrolled in primary and secondary schools across the country, the number of teachers available is paltry: most of India simply does not have the luxury of small classrooms and personalised teaching, nor do most schools have the funds to develop their physical and technological infrastructure.

K-Yan was rated as one of the 10 cutting edge Indian technologies that could transform lives across the world

Working in the education space since 1999, IETS was familiar with some of these challenges and had recognised the potential value of technology in education long before the tech revolution turned its gaze to the education sector in the country. In collaboration with Professor Kirti Trivedi, eminent designer at IIT Bombay, IETS sponsored the development of K-Yan, a highly innovative solution to bring the benefits of interactive learning to students and teachers throughout the country using state-of-the-art technology.

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K-Yan is born from a deep understanding of the education sector's needs and challenges

Robust, portable and feature-rich

In 2003, IETS began working with the prestigious Industrial Design Centre (IDC) at IIT-Bombay to develop K-Yan as a compact media centre to facilitate group and community learning especially in rural India. K-Yan incorporates the power and features of a computer into a high-resolution, high-luminosity projector along with a host of other built-in features including internet connectivity and multimedia content. Named Knowledge-Yan, or Vehicle of Knowledge, K-Yan aimed to be nothing less.

K-Yan is a compact, portable piece of equipment that integrates a high capacity computer, a DVD drive, multiple USB ports and high-fidelity speakers with a very powerful projector
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K-Yan can even be powered off solar panels or a car battery

A deep understanding of this sector’s needs and challenges is at the centre of the innovation. The personal computer, though a great teaching-learning tool, is restrictive in its one-to-one interface; setting up a computer lab with multiple PCs is an investment that is not feasible for most schools and community centres. LCD projectors and large-screen televisions are also expensive, requiring media players and sound systems to be additionally purchased, and are further limited by their lack of robustness and portability. 

K-Yan is a compact, portable piece of equipment that integrates a high capacity computer, a DVD drive, multiple USB ports and high-fidelity speakers with a very powerful projector. It is equipped with high-speed internet support and a television receiver. It comes with a wireless keyboard and mouse, and can be connected to a printer, scanner, web camera and microphone.

Multimedia lessons, virtual experiments, videos, mindmaps, assessments and practice sheets are included in the learning material

The machine has a footprint of 1 square foot and weighs no more than 6 kgs. The robust K-Yan can easily be moved between classrooms, making it highly convenient and economical for schools. Keeping in mind that teachers and community facilitators are often not tech-savvy, it is designed to be simple and user-friendly. Plug in a single wire and with the push of a button, K-Yan can transform any wall into an interactive learning medium. In much of the country however, even electricity is erratic or simply non-existent. K-Yan therefore integrates the ability to be powered off solar panels or a car battery.

Reaching far and wide

The production of K-Yan marked a paradigm shift for the organization as it moved away from being a pure education services provider to additionally creating a commercially viable product. Apart from partnering with IDC, IETS linked up with over 20 vendors, including 3 international vendors and local service providers across India to establish a robust pan-India service network in under 9 months. In less than 10 months of its launch, K-Yan was deployed in 260 schools across 49 locations in India.

With 10 million students and half a million teachers using K-Yan today across 8000 government and private schools, IETS has shown the wide reach and success of its innovation. Experience has shown that use of technology-assisted education leads to improvement in class attendance, pass percentage, student enthusiasm, teacher motivation levels, and fall in dropout rates.

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10 million students and half a million teachers use K-Yan today across 8000 government and private schools

Bringing medium and message together

K-Yan empowers the teacher to focus on improving learning outcomes by using content which is modern, engaging and involves the student at every step. It comes preloaded with a host of multilingual, multimedia teaching materials developed by IETS under the brand K-Class. Multimedia lessons, videos, mindmaps, assessments and practice sheets for science, mathematics and social science across grades are included in the learning material. Embedded virtual experiments or Exploriments — simulation based learning units — help students grasp scientific concepts with ease. Educational games included in the K-Class material help teachers make classes lively and engaging.

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K-Yan with its embedded multimedia material being used in a remote rural classroom in Maharashtra

The content and curriculum development process is based on ADDIE (analysis, design, develop, implement and evaluate) model. K-Yan thus becomes a vehicle to address the lack of joyful learning, shortage of teaching-learning material, high repeater rate, remoteness of schools and shortage of teaching staff, which are the pre-project challenges identified by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the government’s ‘education for all’ initiative.

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Helping address challenges identified by the government's Education for All initiative

Beyond school education

The utility of K-Yan stretches beyond school education. It is being used for information dissemination by NGOs in rural areas across India. It is being used to skill adults towards employability — K-Skills delivers multimedia enabled vocational training content through K-Yan. Available for 45 trades from 15 key industry sectors, this content is currently deployed in more than 350 IETS Skills Institutes and Schools, in English, Hindi and 8 other regional languages.

Across 45 key trades, K-Yan helps deliver vocational training through multimedia training

The technology is thus being leveraged to benefit a cross-section of development targets — health, education, empowerment, and employment generation. It is IL&FS experience that securing large transformational outcomes can only be realized efficiently, affordably, and consistently through the use of technology — the 21st century must therefore see India’s education sector pushed even further in this direction.

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K-Skills delivers multimedia enabled vocational training content for adults through K-Yan