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DOST-STII Philippines signs agreements to expand reach and increase content of digital science library kiosks

The Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) in the Philippines formed two separate partnerships with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and Frontlearners, Inc. to further develop the content and base of of STARBOOKS beneficiaries in the country.

STARBOOKS, or Science and Technology Academic and Research-Based Openly Operated Kiosk Stations, were developed by DOST-STII as the first digital science libraries in the country. STARBOOKS contains thousands of digitised science and technology resources in a range of formats (text/video/audio) placed in specially designed “pods” set in a user-friendly interface.

Along with interactive courseware and other material for science and mathematics, STARBOOKS provide disaster preparedness and mitigation materials information and livelihood videos to promote entrepreneurial activity.

The kiosks can operate offline; hence internet is not required for information access. Information available is read-only. Currently, there are installations at 1,358 sites all over the country. There is a version available online and a mobile application is under development to make STARBOOKS more accessible to more people.

Local Government Units (LGUs), non-government organizations, educational Institutions as well as private corporations can contact STARBOOKS for setting up a kiosk. The installation requirements in terms of equipment are basic.

Expanding reach

The first Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with DICT is focused on developing the reach of STARBOOKS. DICT will provide STARBOOKS-enabled computers to selected beneficiaries as part of its Tech4ED (Technology for Education, Employment, Entrepreneurs, and Economic Development Project) Program.

Tech4ED aims to provide affordable or free-of-charge access for citizens in rural and underserved areas to various communication resources, with focus on the internet. Hence, it neatly ties in with the focus of STARBOOKS to disseminate scientific information.

While, DICT will bear the expenses on the deployment of STARBOOKS to beneficiaries, DOST-STII will be responsible for the installation and maintenance, of the STARBOOKS system through DOST Regional Offices. It will also handle the mandatory training of technical staff/ librarian/kiosk clerk for the operation of the Kiosks.

DOST-STII will update the contents of the STARBOOKS system every six months.

Chief of DOST-STII’s Information Resources and Analysis Division, Alan C. Taule emphasised the synergy,“This collaborative effort of DOST-STII and DICT, through the Tech4ED Program, is about synergy. DOST-STII has the content and DICT has the Tech4ED centers nationwide. Through this partnership, both parties will be able to have a greater impact to their respective end users which are mainly students.”

DOST-STII has also partnered with Children’s Hour, a non-profit organization that supports projects on education, health and nutrition, and child welfare and development for the benefit of disadvantaged Filipino children nationwide. The Children’s Hour will donate STARBOOKS-enabled computers in LGUs and public schools in the southern regions of the Philippines.

Adding content

The second agreement signed between DOST-STII and FrontLearners, Inc. will focus on providing additional content for STARBOOKS.

Frontlearners is described as a ready-to-use, cost effective e-School-in-a-Box with interactive K12 lessons that can be used without internet. It enables classes to held and students to study anytime, anywhere.

According to the agreement, Frontlearners, Inc.  will provide DOST-STII the digital copy of its BlendEd Learning collection. This will be added to the STARBOOKS database. DOST-STII will ensure that proper attribution is followed, featuring Frontlearners BlendEd Learning as a special collection.

Frontlearners, Inc.  will also promote the use and disseminate the benefits of using STARBOOKS. The institution will also be responsible for the collection of S&T materials of their affiliated institutions or agencies and libraries for possible inclusion in STARBOOKS.

Leo De Velez, Founder of FrontLearners, Inc. commented on the partnership,“This partnership with DOST-STII will allow us to add the Frontlearners' e-Learning materials into the STARBOOKS servers. These will be installed in more than 1,000 public schools nationwide this year through the partnership of DOST with DICT Tech4Ed and Children's Hour."

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