Story of the Week  

Brihaspati-Virtual Classroom

 

Conventionally, the learning was always associated with schools, colleges and universities. Till few years back, it was percieved that teaching and learning is over once you graduate out of an university. Continous learning and teaching for the whole life was always associated with the teachers. But in the present day world, the knowledge is evolving so fast that for one to remain productive, he need to learn continously irrespective of her profession. Usually, this ongoing training requirements are satisfied with continuing education system. But the biggest disadvantage is that persons getting trained need to leave the workplace to undergo this process. With the development in technology, it is possible for the people to continously learn while staying at their workplace.

Technology has also made possible to provide the frameworks which can help in conventional education system. These framework are commonly known as learning management systems (LMS). In fact in knowledge based organisation, they can be used to archive, retain and manage the generated knowlege and hence can work as knowledge management systems also.

Any learning process basically consists of learning material dissemination, and mechanisms to provide interaction among all the persons involved in the learning process. Brihaspati is a server side software system built for providing a framework to enable the above function over internet. The users of the system only require the browser with javascript enabled and java plug-in. The system has been built over opensource web application framework Turbine. The brihaspati in the beginning was quite simple just providing the authenticated access to published documents to students. The instructor was given permission to upload the documents. Over the period, the system has evolved to provide many other functionalities. The notable one's are discussion boards, chat and whiteboard system, access control for guest access. Currently, the graphical user interface in English and Hindi is already available. Currently, the Brihaspati-2 is evolving where the instructor and content author functionalities have been separated. The existing system provides extensive administrator functionalities. The most of the functionalities have evolved over the years based on the feedback of IITK faculty and students.

In IIT Kanpur, this system is made available to all the faculty and student to augment the existing convetional learning enviorment. The number of faculty and students using the system actively has considerably increased over last few years. The free version of software is made available from http://sourceforge.net/project/brihaspati and the brochure is available at http://home.iitk.ac.in/~ynsingh/tool/pamphlet.pdf . There are many other institutes which have shown interest and using the system for augmenting their own learning environments. The system makes it feasible for instructors to
share their learning material with people worldwide.

In time to come, we are expecting to have SCORM compliance, clustered server operation, functionality to fetch courses from remote brihaspati. Also, the functionality to deliver the live lecture with possibility of interaction with students is expected very soon as Brihaspati_sync, the synchronous lecture delivery componenet of Brihapati-2.

The IIT Kanpur installation of Brihaspati can be accessed from http://202.141.40.216/ For the users of free version, the discussion group brihaspati_iitk@yahoogroups.com is used for all kind of discussions. For the commercial version, you can contact the coordinator of the project at ynsingh@iitk.ac.in.

Dr. Yatindra Nath Singh
Coordinator, Educational Technology Research Group (ETRG)
Electrical Engineering Department


    eMail: ynsingh@iitk.ac.in

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