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Teaching Jhansi students from Kanpur

Vijay Chawla  |  Kanpur 

The teacher in Kanpur writes an equation on the board, which his student in Jhansi can't understand, and raises his finger to ask a question ... the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, will take a step advance in long-distance education on June 15, when the electrical engineering laboratory of will be connected to the
All the facilities of a classroom will be there. The students and the teacher will be able to interact. The students will see the white board on which the teacher writes. They can also ask questions.
This has been made possible through Brihaspati, a software developed over three years by and his team, mostly MCA and B-Tech students from outside the IIT.
This software is open-source, unlike others that were not, and were in fact highly expensive. Singh said the advantage of open-source software was that it gave others a chance to participate and improve on it.
The code can be downloaded free. However, there are some cautions. Singh says if one has developed the code oneself, then it is easy to alter it, or introduce new changes in it. One can also add value, as is being done by Red Hat on Linux, and turn it into a commercial proposition.
The commercial model is taking some time to develop. Quite often the users find it difficult remove the bottlenecks. They want the Brihaspati team to sort out problems. However, at the moment there is no organisation to operationalise the system and make it commercially viable. This is not our job, says Singh.
Singh said was developing the software.
On the other hand, there are nearly 58 organisations registered with Brihaspati, and except one, which is a research organisation, the rest are educational. Some are using it, while others want support to run it.
The number of users is not known, but is expected to go up. Hindi and Urdu versions of the software will be ready shortly.

First Published: Tue, June 07 2005. 00:00 IST