Vidunena is on online e-learning portal for GCE Advanced Level Science students in Sri Lanka. The system provides content covering the entire A-Level science syllabus across the four subjects of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, including rich multimedia content and a host of interactive features which enable effective collaborative learning online. The entire platform as well as its content is in the native Sinhala language.
Vidunena is available for everyone to use absolutely free of charge online! Anyone can register with vidunena at http://www.vidunena.lk .
Also, a special locally installable version of Vidunena is now available and is being locally installed at rural schools with poor internet bandwidth. This version of Vidunena can function as a standalone system while downloading content from a centrally hosted Vidunena "mother server" and updating itself!
Thus, Vidunena enables disadvantaged rural students to gain a good education without even leaving their school! They can always access the system and content online or Vidunena can be installed right in their schools. Even the locally installable version of Vidunena updates itself, which means that rural students will always have the most up-to-date content available for their studies in local language, free of charge and both online and offline!
Vision: To create a world where even the poorest student in the most rural village can have a good education through the use of ICT.
Objectives: To give each and every student in Sri Lanka, no matter where they live and what facilities they have available, a set of tools which will enable them to learn and successfully face the Advanced Level examination - the most challenging examination in the Sri Lankan education system (as it functions as the selection exam for university entrance). We are committed to providing Vidunena to students absolutely free of charge forever!
Goals: - To have a comprehensive e-learning system complete with interactive multimedia content covering all areas of the Advanced level science syllabus in Sinhala language online. (completed)
- Design and develop a standalone version of the system which can be locally installed at rural schools which have internet bandwidth issues. The locally installable system should communicate with a centrally hosted "mother server" and keep itself up-to-date. (completed)
- Adding more content after feedback received from users (in progress)
- Having Vidunena available in the second national language of Tamil. (in planning)
Vidunena is targeted at disadvantaged students of rural Sri Lanka, who have little facilities for their studies especially when it comes to secondary education.
ICTs can be the most effective means of bridging the knowledge and resource gap between rural students and the resources and knowledge available in the world. Thus, this project aims to effectively use ICTs to address the specific and critical needs of rural disadvantaged A-Level students in Sri Lanka.
An e-learning system with interactive multimedia content covering all areas of the Advanced Level science syllabus across the four subjects of Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics is made available online and completely free of charge. A student from any corner of Sri Lanka can access the system and benefit from its content. Further, interactive features built into the system allows students to do practice exams online, interact with other students and teachers and ask questions, request new content as well as share any content they have with others.
The target groups of Vidunena are disadvantaged rural student communities across Sri Lanka. Students in rural Sri Lanka face many problems when they pass into Advanced Level. Advanced Level is the entry qualification to Sri Lankan universities and is therefore highly competitive. Of all streams, the science stream is particularly difficult to study in without proper resources in schools.
While students in urban areas have access to tuition classes and schools with plenty of resources, rural students have a very small fraction of these facilities. Due to poverty and other problems like lack of qualified teachers, distance to towns etc., rural students who pass into A-Level face many difficulties in finding proper resources for their studies.
Also, the Sri Lankan government does not provide any textbooks or other learning materials for A-Level science students. Although most students in urban areas have access to printed and CD-based learning materials from their friends or can afford to purchase them, rural students do not have these facilities.
Vidunena reaches rural students in Sri Lanka through the internet. There are internet access centers scattered across the country. Notably, a network of rural technology centers called "Nenasalas", an initiative of the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) spans the country across 600 locations. Also, another network funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) called "School Net" provides high bandwidth facilities to more than 2,000 schools across Sri Lanka. In both these facilities, Vidunena can be accessed.
To reach students more conveniently, a locally installable version of Vidunena has been developed and is being locally installed in schools. This version of Vidunena enables students in schools with low bandwidth internet access to take advantage of Vidunena. This local installation continuously updates itself to the latest content of Vidunena, ensuring that the system stays upto date all the time.
Thus, the impact Vidunena has had on rural student communities cannot be understated. The impact is profound, and there is increasing interest across the country regarding Vidunena.
The initial concept of the project won the Educational Software Competition 2005 organized by the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka
In 2008, a grant was awarded for development of the project by the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA)
In 2009, The ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) awarded another grant to the project aimed at developing a locally installable system which can be installed at schools so that rural students who have low bandwidth access to the internet can still benefit from Vidunena.
In 2009, School Net, the network and internet provider for the Sri Lankan school system (funded by the Asian Development Bank) offered to provide hosting support to Vidunena. School Net now hosts Vidunena on high-end dedicated servers free of charge and indefinitely.
In December 2009, the project was awarded a Special Mention Award at the e-Swabhimani 2009 National Best e-Content Awards organized by the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA)
Also in December 2009, the project was awarded the Manthan Award South Asia and recognized as the best e-content for development in that year.