[lowcostcomputing] CASTLE - the new tool in education

  • From: Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay <sankarshan@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lowcostcomputing@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 20 Jun 2004 11:23:29 +0530

CASTLE - the new tool in education

On the 16th of June 2004, the West Bengal University of Technology or
UTech (www.wbut.net) in partnership with the West Bengal Madrassa Board,
unveiled CASTLE - a new tool in classroom education. CASTLE is an
acronym for Computer Aided Studying, Teaching and Learning Environment.
In this maiden venture of the Technology Incubation Initiative of UTech,
the projects aims at providing a socially relevant interface to the
education in West Bengal by providing a platform for studies and
learning environment to the students of Madrassa. "The project
incorporates the Madrassa Board published courses as subject materials
and hopes that this tool in the hands of the teachers can provide the
students with a better opportunity for understanding and create an
engaging learning environment", said Prof A R Thakur, Pro VC, UTech.

CASTLE is a service offering based on the paradigm of Localised Low Cost
Computing or L2C2 (www.l2c2.org) developed by Indranil Das Gupta,
Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay and Sayamindu Dasgupta. Utilising and extending
the localization effort of the Ankur Bangla Project
(www.bengalinux.org), L2C2 offers a means to create an education content
delivery platform using completely Free/Open Source Technologies. This
is important in view of the fact that UTech under the current Pro-VC
Prof Ashoke Ranjan Thakur has an in-place policy of using Free/Open
Source Software and related tools at all domains of implementation.

The West Bengal Madrassa Board is providing the educational content in
digitized format which will then be made available through the CASTLE
program to all the madrassas in the state. In the first phase of the
project, 5 madrassas for girls have been identified as the pilot bench,
with the projected aim of implementation in 500 madrassas across West
Bengal. The value addition in CASTLE is the availability of multimedia
enriched content at each individual terminal. With the emphasis being on
providing engaging content at an affordable cost bench, the project
extends the concepts of 'Thin Clients' and integrates it with localized
computing. The GNU/Linux OS being used for the project is the Red Hat
(www.redhat.com) sponsored community project distribution Fedora
(http://fedora.redhat.com) Core 2. The OS has been substantially
modified as per the requirements for the education sector. 

The CASTLE system consists of a setup consisting of 20 terminals and 1
server. The total cost of such a system with additional peripherals like
UPS, printer comes around to INR 300000. CASTLE provides a completely
reproducible and modular setup which can be adapted and adopted to
include various Indic Languages which are supported on the GNU/Linux
platform by standard out-of-the-box Operating System Distributions. 

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