The SpotBeam Solution SpotBeam is a learning solution that uses video-conferencing technology in schools to teach, inspire, and generate student competition towards innovation. The software application links schools in different locations audio-visually and allows students to engage in competitive project sharing in real time. The technology is low-cost software application and features an easy to operate point-and-click console in the main studio. With similar consoles running in remote classrooms, instructors and students, while broadcasting themselves live, can also broadcast live videos, graphics, web pages and presentations. An interactive whiteboard is also available. SpotBeam is original software application developed by Preston Hall. It highlights:
Remote teaching: A central video-conferencing lab that can broadcast interactive lessons to multiple classrooms, allowing students in remote areas the benefit of innovative learning where they have a lack of teachers.
Leadership lessons: This central lab can also broadcast leadership lessons, peace education and global affairs to classrooms equipped with video-conferencing facilities. Special guests can be brought to the lab to interact remotely and in real time to students.
Competitive learning: The software allows for the twinning up of schools that will compete with each other on innovative projects. For example, school A chooses to work on an agricultural project; school B chooses to work on an creative writing project. Through the SpotBeam video-conferencing set-up in the classroom, the two schools would provide each other with progress of their projects, leading to a recognition of the winning project. In the long term, SpotBeam will be a contributing factor to growing an innovation-driven industry.
The Beamers Network: a Diaspora-driven support network that will help with the financing the low-cost set up of the SpotBeam video-conferencing technology in rural areas, one school at a time.
Technical Description: The SpotBeam video conference system operates on a streaming media server. Live and pre-recorded media are captured on a software video and audio encoder which converts the analog signals to a digital stream to store on the server or broadcast over the Internet to schools also equipped with a server, a webcam and either a low-cost 30" LCD monitor or an overhead projector. The console software is an originally authored composition using an HTML Application (HTA) and XHTML to generate the user interface and extensive Visual Basic Scripting language to program the logic to interface all of the equipment and software. It consists of over 500 lines of programming code. Other equipment and software includes Logitech cameras and microphones, Microsoft Office 2010, where PowerPoint is broadcast live with narration, and a Scriblink interactive whiteboard application. The console interfaces these hardware and programs to provide an extremely easy to use and low-cost system. Some key features include: no complex encoder/server setup, one button click to camera zoom, pan and microphone level controls. Why SpotBeam: From Failure to Genius The SpotBeam application has been inspired by the need to recognize and exploit the innovative abilities of thousands of Kenya's youth who do not make it to college. We believe that given the chance to find their genius, every student has the potential to create industry and transform their community and country. According to the 2009 Secondary School Heads Association report, in the past four years, 66% of high school graduates attained a D+ grade and below, scores too low to qualify them for entry into any college. Vocational education opportunities absorb a negligible percentage of those that do not advance to college. Those that graduate college fight for scarce white-collar employment opportunities in an economy that lacks the culture of innovation and creativity. In a country where straitjacket academia and white-collar jobs are largely viewed as the way to succeed in life, a growing "failure" generation of youth remains locked out, disenfranchised, their genius untapped. It is to this student generation that SpotBeam is committed to providing technology that will inspire innovation and creativity.