ilimbox – Source of digital knowledge. Benefits, what features and for whom, as well as reducing file size.

Karazakov Pamirbek Patidinovich, education specialist, mentor.

How did you get involved with the Ilimbox project?

I joined the Ilimbox project for many reasons and a long time ago. In 2016-2017, at the Kyrgyz-Turkish University Manas, on the initiative of Erzhigit Imamov, with the support of the university and the head of the Department of Computer Engineering of KTMU Assoc. Doc. Raimbek Sultanov started a project called “Development of a distance learning system on simple platforms by compressing audio and video files.” In the course of this project, we studied algorithms for compressing audio / video files and chose the most optimal formats, encoding several video files in different formats, i.e. small in size but with good visual quality. This, in turn, created a good opportunity to save internet traffic and at the same time allowed the student who wants to watch the video lesson with good visual quality.

As a continuation of this project, the Ilimbox project was implemented in the Kyrgyz Internet Society, but I did not participate in this project. A pandemic began, schoolchildren and students went into the online format of education, and the same problems appeared for schoolchildren. The Kyrgyz Internet Society took up these problems and started the project “ – online bilim berүү platformas” and I was very glad to know that this is a continuation of the work that we started.

How important is the creation of Edutech projects at the moment?

The creation of such projects is now very important, or rather, it was not important before, but now, during the pandemic caused by the spread of the Covid-19 virus, all training takes place online. In this context, these technologies create a good learning and teaching environment. At the beginning of the project, our idea was that schoolchildren in remote areas should receive no less education than in the capital, but I think I am right in saying that the problems that teachers and students face during a pandemic highlight the importance of Edutech projects.

What do students really want to know and learn?

I think the most important thing is for young people of every generation to think about how to use the knowledge gained in life, in the process of their future work.

For example, how are trigonometric functions and equations studied in mathematics used in practice and this question can be of great concern to many people, but these equations are often used everywhere. For example, in construction, robotics, electronics, mechanical engineering.

I think the same can be said for children who say that they don’t need too much information and that they want to know more. Therefore, it would be good to teach them to apply every piece of knowledge. In general, today the demand is for our children to want to become programmers, designers, architects, businessmen. In other words, the question arises: “What do young people really need to know and read?” If so, then I would advise “the masters of our future, for young people today – to learn how to find accurate and timely information.”

What motivates you to do these things? (motivation)

The most important thing is that our youth can receive unlimited education anytime and anywhere. We now have phones, tablets and other electronic media. These media should also be in the Kyrgyz language, in the Kyrgyz language, firstly, it is good for us as a nation, and secondly, it creates conditions for people who want to know our nation and country. I also think that it is important for the children of our migrants abroad, if you are abroad, there is no school with Kyrgyz as the language of instruction, but you can study online on the educational platform. I hope the work we are doing in this direction will bring good results in the future.

Are you proud of what you do?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the content managers, teachers and programmers in our team. I am proud of the work of all project participants, not just my work.

Benefits of Distance Learning?

We’ve already talked a little about the benefits of distance learning. Let’s look at them again:

  • Access to education for schoolchildren and students living in remote areas, on a par with schoolchildren and students in the capital.
  • Convenience for students with disabilities.
  • Reduce the teacher shortage to some extent.
  • Availability of teaching aids.
  • Ability to save recurring lessons as a video lesson and watch it again at any time.

What are the problems with distance learning?

During the pandemic, both teachers and students faced many distance learning challenges that started suddenly.

Such as:

  • Lack of information and technical base. This problem has caused economic damage to parents and teachers. More importantly, there is no educational material and information in the Kyrgyz language. I believe that the Ilimbox project correctly and accurately solved this problem, online lessons on our platform in the Kyrgyz language, video lessons prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic are available.
  • Lack of distance learning experience. I think this problem was solved by itself. Today, many of our teachers have done a great job in distance learning and have gained good experience.
  • Lack of information and communication skills of schoolchildren and teachers. This problem was also gradually resolved and, as noted above, it was a great experience for all of us. We have mastered the use of smartphones in education and training, which we previously only used for talking, taking photos, listening to music or playing games.

What are the main technical advantages of the ilimbox platform?

The main technical advantage of the Ilimbox platform is the ability to use it in all corners of Kyrgyzstan where there is Internet. The right to download lessons and video lessons, this is due to the fact that all videos were prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science, and the text and additional materials were prepared by practicing teachers. I think we have organized these materials in such a way that they are simple and understandable for students. In addition, interactive assignments and tests have been added to make the lessons more interesting.

What opportunities does the platform open to users?

The platform offers users a variety of options. A teacher using the platform can collect and use the learning materials he or she has prepared for students at any time. If the teacher has mastered the creation of educational materials on the portal, then in the future he can create his own full-fledged author’s training program and, if desired, open courses for schoolchildren / students.

Offers much more opportunities for pupils / students. Even if the online lessons are over and the offline lessons have started, you can still use the Ilimbox platform. Review the lesson if he missed it, let him repeat the topic he missed in the lesson and let him complete it if he wants to learn more. Most importantly, children from remote areas can read what they read in the capital or other major cities.

As mentioned above for a teacher, if a teacher creates their own authoring course and posts it on the platform, they can learn from an experienced teacher.

In addition, if you are interested, you can learn what the Kyrgyz language is in any lesson depending on the topic. For example, I am a schoolboy and I study in a Russian-speaking class, we have learned a subject in Russian and understood it well, but my sister or brother is studying in a Kyrgyz class, and a year later my brother was poorly versed in the subject in the class and when I start to explain -Russian, my brother is dizzy again, I think that if I sit down with my brother and look at these materials, it will help explain in other words, parents have the opportunity to explain to their children what they do not understand.

Why is all information on the platform on servers located in Kyrgyzstan?

In general, the location on servers inside Kyrgyzstan is an advantage in all respects, since the users of this platform are Kyrgyzstan, the materials created in Kyrgyzstan must be located on our own servers (from a security point of view).

This is partly due to traffic, as you know, many internet providers divide internet traffic into Kyrgyzstan and abroad, and because of this, external internet traffic is a little slower.

How are video tutorials located on the Ilimbox educational platform?

In fact, most of my work on the project was related to video materials, from March to mid-June of this year we collected, sorted, copied and encoded videos and, by the decision of the team, I took on this work. In total, the ministry prepared an average of 80-100 video lessons, depending on the topic of each lesson. We are introducing curricula for grades 8-9-10 and in the 8th grade 283 subjects, in the 9th – 267, in the 10th – 264 and the same number of video lessons.

If one person speaks for 20 minutes while discussing a topic, the other person may get tired and distracted. With this in mind, our team decided to divide the videos into sections according to their meaning, this is because a short video is a convenient way to find a part of a topic and listen to it again. Of course, the student could skip the video time and start from the right place, however, we believe that it is more convenient for both the teacher and the student to divide it into logically correct parts.

How important is it to reduce the file size of video tutorials?

The Ministry of Education and Science has given permission to their ftp server, to which we have uploaded a total of 972 videos, including the 7th grade. The average viewing time of these videos is 20 minutes and the average size is 300-500 MB, and the format is the well-known MP4 video format. As a result of encoding, the same files were 25-40 MB in size. This means that it took up almost 10 times less space. However, not all videos on the ministry’s file server were 300-500 MB in size, but 1.5-2 GB. However, the size of these large videos has been reduced to another 20-50 MB.

These videos average 20 minutes of video.

Perhaps, now such a question arises here, if the file size is reduced by 10 times, then the quality is reduced by another 10 times. No. Although this encoding method has been developed for a long time, it is newer than the encoding method provided by the MP4 format and uses different algorithms. Simply put, the video we are watching consists of parts (pixels) that have been stationary and moving for a while. We can say that the algorithm of the new codec captures the fixed parts of the video separately from the moving parts. The background of the speaking person, the text during the presentation, etc., while the moving parts are the teacher’s speech, the cursor, the moving text, etc. The background behind the teacher’s explanation is saved only once, and the moving teacher is present in all frames of the video, and the background is copied from the original frames.

If you look at this image, there is no car in the 1st frame, and when the car passes by, you can see the full picture when you show the car along with the background in the 1st frame.

If we take this second image, the car will be stationary relative to the camera because it is moving, but the background is moving (changing).

We used this codec to compress video. How much time was spent coding? 5-8 videos were encoded in 24 hours, which took 3 to 5 hours for each video. We shot the aforementioned 972 videos in March, April and May using 6 computers in our office, for a total of over a thousand videos.

How do you see the project in a few years?

I hope that in a few years the project will reach a higher level, that teachers will fully master the use of this platform, and that students (content specialists) who have worked as content creators in our country will become teachers in the future, will take full advantage of this platform and undertake new steps in teaching your students. I hope that the teaching materials will be enriched, enriched for students as well.

The Ilimbox Distance Learning Educational Platform for Schoolchildren project is funded by the Democratic Commission’s Small Grants Program of the US Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic 2020-2021.The Ilimbox project is funded by the Democratic Commission Small Grants Program of the US Embassy in the Kyrgyz Republic.