Researchers at IIT Kharagpur have developed an e-classroom software, DEEKSHAK. With COVID-19 lockdown and social distancing, educational institutions across the world have shifted to electronic mode. Meeting software platforms are being popularly used for online classes. But the users are frequently experiencing challenges with regard to security issues, and more importantly, the operational requirements of an electronic classroom which is significantly different from a corporate meeting.
A team of researchers from IIT Kharagpur has developed a solution, an online synchronous e-teaching platform that primarily uses one-way communication for bandwidth efficiency. The focus, hence instead of being, all students participating in a class as in a meeting software, is on the teacher and the learning materials. Prof. Raja Datta of Electronics and Electrical Communication Department with his postgraduate students developed the software, the current version of which can be used within a campus LAN.
Talking about DEEKSHAK, he said, “it is now a single session platform where the teacher would concentrate on the screen with the teaching materials while being able to view queries on a live chat box where each student can send in their queries. Students also have access to a doubt box where they can click to “raise their hand” and wait for the teacher to address it, as is done in a physical classroom. Teachers can also share documents with the students through the platform and even update notes on the documents in real-time.”
DEEKSHAK is a low bandwidth web-based software and can be accessed using any computer or even cell phone. Teachers can also record the attendance of the students on the platform. The software has been tested at IIT Kharagpur during the initial phase of social distancing with about 40 hours of classes being conducted with a total of approximately 300 students.
Director Prof. Virendra K Tewari said, “We need platforms addressing challenges faced by India and Deekshak is designed to cater to Indian academia, be it the bandwidth issue, or user interface or storage. We are leaders in ICT and should find affordable solutions with social and commercial value. This is one clear goal I have set for IIT Kharagpur. DEEKSHAK is one step towards that goal through which the teachers would be able to offer more personalized interaction while focusing better on the act of teaching.”
IIT Kharagpur has applied for the copyright registration of DEEKSHAK and is in search of a start-up company for its maintainability. Further development of DEEKSHAK is also underway to improve its features and make it secure so that it can be made available for use in academia, confirmed Prof. Raja Datta.