Brihaspati e-learning platform

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India’s premier educational institution IIT Kanpur launches its own LMS using an open-source frame work to build e-Learning courses and deliver them across wide area networks

As opposed to the computer-based training of 1980s, the term e-Learning refers to computer-enhanced training. e-Learning is usually delivered via a personal computer. It includes learning delivered by other communications technologies. Methods include online lectures, tutorials, performance support systems, simulations, job aids, games, and more. e-Learning May also be used to suit distance learning through the use of WANs (Wide Area Networks), and May also be considered to flexible. University Grant commission (UGC) recommends ‘Brihaspati the virtual classroom’ web based e-Learning system to be used by universities and colleges free of cost. Brihaspati Virtual Classroom is a software developed by IIT Kanpur. It is an open platform for learning, based on the java servlets content delivery system. Administrator (Admin) has the main authority of Brihaspati. The cost of the software is free and anybody can login into Brihaspati as a ‘Guest.’ In this case the username and password both would be’ Guest’ but the Instructor and Student accounts are created by the Admin user.

It is a very user-friendly open source framework and can be used effectively to build e-education applications. Every Instructor can independently register students in their specified course. Instructors and Students both have their own unique password and login ids. Brihaspati gives full freedom to the Instructor and Student to come in contact with each other through e-mail, chat, and discussion boards. Architecture and entities Brihaspati is implemented in java using Turbine, an open source framework, as secure web application. This confirm to the Model View Controller (MVC) paradigm which aims at separating content, presentation and business logic.

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Also Read: Is E-learning the Future of Education?

There are very five possible entities in the system at present. These are Administrator (for the learning management system), Instructor (primary and secondary), Student and the Content Author. At the moment, each course can have a single primary Instructor and any number of secondary Instructors. Additional Instructors can be added and deleted to course by the Admin at any time. However, removal of the primary Instructor leads to removal of the course as well. This structure resolves the IPR issues involved in any academic environment where the same course might be taught by different instructors in different semesters or academic years.

GUI language and custom interface
Brihaspati has been designed to support multiple GUI. In the current distribution, we have English, French, Hindi, Bangla and Marathi as supported languages. GUIs in other languages such as Malayalam, Telugu and German are being developed. Amongst the more general features of Brihaspati Learning Management System are its in-built authentication system and the fact that any other Indian language GUI is available optionally as part of the customization offered on the LMS. The LMS also contains help documentation for users. The lists of active courses have now been made visible for those who do not have login IDs.

Various functionalities and facilities such as a glossary, a calculator and even a personal and shared notebook have been added. Password management has been definitely tweaked and online registration for Course and User are added. Automatic update information is sent to the users by Local Mail. Administrator Interface: On the Administrator interface front, Admin can now create new courses along with primary Instructors and later or simultaneously add secondary instructors. Online flash messages have been incorporated and single or multiple students can be added optionally. Modification of passwords and profiles of Instructors and Students, activation, deactivation and deletion of courses depending on whether it is offered in the current semester as well as adding and removing courses for students have been incorporated in the list of features available on the administrator interface.

Course and user details can, of course, be updated by the Admin and multiple courses can be registered in a single step. In case the same course is taught by different Instructors, course number aliasing handles the situation. Feedback of the Instructors and their login status can also be verified by the Admin. There is a handy calendar tool for time management; this feature is common to Instructor and Student interfaces as well. Interface for Instructor and Student: Instructors can upload and publish courses in a single click, change the course headers. Course-specific news and general news can be generated. Instructors can create Sharing Content Object Reference Model-compliant (SCORM) course packages using SCORM Packager. Courses are separated into topics and saved in a directory. This makes it easier for Students to browse courses as there is an XML descriptor file present for each topic.

Advantages of Brihaspati

  • Access to consistent standardized learning materials
  • 24×7 access to flexible e-learning
  • Track personal achievement and progression
  • Virtual Communication enabling the sharing and dissemination of information throughout the College/Institution
  • Improved access to learning opportunities
  • Equitable access to learning
  • Instant feedback on learner achievement
  • Personal area to store work and other files
  • Track attendance & assessment result

The sequence of published content and topic can be modified and with the remote course capability comes separate uploading and publishing ability. Aliasing of contents has been incorporated and a chat tool has been integrated a modified Babylon.

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