Objective of this site is to build a collection of resources and activities for promoting science education and scientific temper. The current focus is on Learning Management Systems due to the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has turned the attention of the educational institutions all over the world to the tools available for online classes. However, most of them are attempting an online version of their classroom teaching using videoconferencing tools, mostly availing the free services from several software multinational companies.
Adopting a proper Learning Management System has it’s own advantages. But it is also important to do it in an efficient and cost effective manner. The institutions should own the tools and infrastructure required for it. Free and Open Source Software provides some valuable resources in this field. This site is a model implementation of the essential software tools required for an educational institution to operate in the present scenario and even after that, based completly on Free and Open Source software including the operating system.
I assume that any educational institute should have the following services accessible from outside it’s premises.
All these services can be implemented on the same server under different subdomains, but it is preferable to host the last item separately due to the resource requirements. The following pararaphs explain the hardware and software implementation details, so that anybody interested can build similar systems.
The minimum hardware requirement is a Pentium i3 quad core with 8GB RAM or something equivalent. It should have an Internet connection with 1Gbps speed and a static IP address. There are two ways to implement this.
In both cases your need to register a domain name, ‘scischool.in’ in our case. The procedure to register a name is the same for real and virtual ones on the cloud. There are many domain name offering companies like ‘Godaddy’ on the Internet. I got it from Zyxware domains, Trivandrum. It costs around Rs 700/- per year to maintain a domain name with .in extension. You may find discount deals for the first year. The domain registrar provides an online account where you can point your registered domain name to your IP address. A new entry takes several hours to propagate to all the DNS servers on the Internet, that’s how the DNS system works.
We are using the GNU/Linux operating system Ubuntu, and the required Free Sftware packages are available on it. We only need to choose from a wide variety of choices available.
I have chosen a static website rather than a Content Management System like Drupal. A CMS require more care and maintenance to avoid cyber attacks. A static website is almost immune to attacks. I have been running a website under Drupal and after several attacks, decided to make it static. Nowadays, you don’t have to learn and write HTML to build a site. Use a system like Jekyll anybody with some computer experience can create a website. I wrote ExpEYES site in HTML but later on witnessed somebody making a better website using Jekyll within a couple of days. I just took a stripped down template of it to create this site. There are dozens of such templates vailable on Jekyll website. There many popular websites made using Jekyll. The language used is called Markdown and the what I typed to make this page is HERE. Once the site is prepared, you need to install a web server. I have chosen the ‘nginx’ web server.
The most popular LMS is today is Moodle, and it is open source. This site currently hosts a couple of Moodle sites. This Moodle Site will become a repository of several courses. The Second Moodle Site currently contains the courses created by a group of teachers who are learning Moodle.
This site also hosts several Moodle LMS servers, currently being experimented by different schools at Kozhikode, Kerala, India. EMSGHSS Perumanna GGHSS Kallai GHSS Chorode GVHSS Payyoli HSS Iringannur MHSS Elettil MKHMMO HSS NHSS Nanminda St. Vincent HSS UHSS Chaliyam GGHSS Feroke
Bigbluebutton Server is an open source videoconferencing software. The server installed on this site has been tested by conducting online classes with more than 50 participants. This is the resource intensive part and it’s role should be minimised when resources are limited. Currently, BBB has been removed from this server to dedicate more resources for running Moodle. It will be setup on a separate machine. I can provide the available information and some help to any educational institution interested in setting up a server like this. Of course you can find all these information on the Internet.
Ajith Kumar B P
bpajith at gmail dot com