Software For Kids

Useful code (and games) for all …

Software… from the EDC (Bangalore)

Software, from the EDC by you.

Finally, managed to lay my hands on this software. It’s interesting, or so it struck me after I saw it being played with.

Victor Paul, Ph.D, Country Director of the Education Development Center (EDC) in Bangalore, India, wrote in to say: “It was a great pleasure to meet you and discuss briefly about EDC and our T4 project activities during the Quest symposium venue at Bangalore. EDC staff will give you some of our educational CDs (Group teaching & learning software) and another CD cum brochure containing all details about our products and programmes for your information. Please let me have your feedback on them.

Some details of their work from here:

The dot-EDU India Technology Tools for Teaching and Training (T4) project has over 558 technology products designed to enhance student learning in Grades 1-5, complemented by extensive teacher training and monitoring. Locally developed and in audio, video or software formats, these products bring innovative teaching and learning practices to nearly 22 million students in more than 251,673 schools.

Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) Radio has been a tremendous resource for promoting improved teaching and learning practices at the primary level in Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand. Working closely with the State governments, EDC develops interactive radio programs in a variety of subjects based on the curriculum and targeting the needs defined by teachers themselves. EDC’s Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) lessons engage students through local stories, songs and physical activities, while supporting teachers in developing student-centered teaching skills.

IRI for English (Hindi, English): “Learning English is Fun” Tulsi, Siyan, Raju, Chanda and Mithu – the radio characters in the “Learning English is Fun” series – are helping over 14 million students and teachers in primary classes learn English. The two levels of this IRI series for English as a Second Language reach Grades 1-3 multi-grade students and teachers in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh.

Math, Science, Social Studies (Kannada): “Chukki Chinna” & “Chinnari Chukki” Akka, Sonu, Putti, Achu, Punchrangi and Manu (radio characters) are helping almost 6 million students and teachers in Grades 1-5 across Karnataka learn Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Kannada and English. Based on ‘hard spots’ identified by Karnataka teachers, trainers and the State Government, both of these IRI series help teachers to more effectively teach difficult content in the five subject areas.

Math, Science, Social Studies (Hindi): “Jhil Mil”

“Jhil Mil” is an adaptation of the “Chukki Chinna” IRI series from Kannada to Hindi. Expanding the reach to students in Hindi speaking states, Didi, Bablu, Raju, Munni, Udan Goda and Mattu (the radio characters) help nearly 2 million students and teachers in multi-grade 3rd to 5th classes learn Mathematics, Science, Social Science, Hindi, and English.

Educational Videos EDC’s educational video programs guide and model project-based learning approaches that support students and teachers in difficult-to-teach content areas in Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. Students are encouraged to form opinions and test hypotheses by engaging in innovative and interactive group projects modeled through the video and facilitated by the classroom teacher using locally available resources. Over 960,000 4th and 5th multi-grade students are reached through 40 videos telecast on the Government of India’s EDUSAT satellite.

Group Teaching & Learning (GTL) Multimedia Software The GTL software brings teachers and students together to conduct interactive activities around a single computer. The software allows students to focus on difficult science concepts in greater depth by providing over 10 hours of games and group activities. Students explore various science topics through a rich combination of learning resources for use both on and off the computer – from songs, to IRI programs, lesson plans, videos and quizzes. Current GTL titles include: “Animal Discovery”, “Ecosystems and Habitats”, “Sanitation and Hygiene Learning Game”, & “What is Disease?”

Digital Library (DL) Hosted by the National Informatics Center (NIC) Karnataka, the DL is an on-line searchable catalog of learning materials in audio, video and print formats. The DL allows teachers to access all dot-EDU India T4 learning materials as well as those produced by government and private/public sector providers. Resources are available in English, Kannada, Tamil, Telegu and Oriya languages. The DL helps ensure that educational materials developed by international and national organizations and donors remain widely accessible.

Contacts for the EDC: #42, 39th Cross, 8th Block, Jayanagar.P.O, Bangalore-70, Karnataka, India. Ph.No. +918022449244 /45, Fax: +918022449247.
Website: http://ies.edc.org/T4India

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August 24, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Free-to-use, Games, Resources | 3 Comments

Software for kids… tutorial from Aren

Aren (5) explains the goodies that come with the GNU/Linux operating sytem, from a kids point of view… specially Gcompris, some games and more.

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August 18, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Free Software, Games | 2 Comments

Tux Math… with Aren (5) and Riza (9)

Out there, a set of committed software coders are creating games and tools for young minds. So are our kids taking to them? You bet… hear the story from two kids in whose home FN lives at Goa, India.

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August 16, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Free Software, Games, Resources | Leave a comment

The Teacher Toolbox… an interesting blog

Teacher's Toolbox

An interesting site that I came across today.  http://adrianbruce.com/teacher-toolbox/ It contains quite some useful info and links. Incuding some to art, blogging, books, cartoons, chess, competitions, digital story telling, digital video, educational software, English, homework, humour, math, morning tea, phonics games, phonics resources, podcasting, poetry, problem solving, professional development, reading comprehension, science education, “shameless self-promotion”, stress reduction, stressbusters, things they don’t tell you at university, thinking skills,Web 2.0, website resources, word games and writing.

Check it out!

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August 9, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Resources, Teacher resources, Websites | Leave a comment

Educational resources… from azimpremjifoundation.org

Sukumar Anikar <anikar@azimpremjifoundation.org> [1] and Prasad <prasad@azimpremjifoundation.org> managed to get across to me a copy of a DVD … and what a DVD at that! It contained a whole lot of fascinating educational software for school children.

A couple of nights ago, I ended up ‘playing’ some educational games with Aren, 5, and told him that my friends had sent the same across free. “Did you say ‘thank you’?” he asked me in turn. In fact, he kept ‘playing’ on these games, though it was almost midnight, and even though he’s too small to obviously understand many of the concepts being taught here (decimal fractions, and what not … but big enough to be interested in the wild animals of the jungle and to try and comprehend how fruits and a balanced diet gives us the energy we need to do work). The ‘games’ sent across in this DVD work excellently and without flaw (so far) on my Ubuntu laptop. They have been adjusted to work with the GNU/Linux operating system.

It drew my interest enough to dash across another email to Sukumar and Prasad, requesting more programmes.Given the medium of instructions being used (and subjects taught) in Goa, I am particularly interested in software dealing with:

  • English language
  • Hindi language
  • Maths
  • Environmental Science
  • General Science
  • Social Science
  • Co-curricular subjects

Check out the long list of what’s available. http://www.azimpremjifoundation.org/html/E_Learn_Mat_table1.htm

The Azim Premji Foundation is actually keen to work with educational institutions (rather than with individuals, if I understood right) for obvious reasons.

Said the APF in a mail to me: “We always support the state governments by providing them the Digital Learning Resource (DLR) for deployment in Government schools. Generally, the support is by providing the right to replicate our content to the state, without any costs. Our Digital Learning Resource is not provided if the intended use is for commercial purposes. We also share content with NGOs and other institutions who manage schools where there is no barrier on admissions and where no fee is being charged.

And Mr Anikar added, Almost all our titles or Digital Learning Resource are
trilingual i.e. in English, Hindi and in any one of the regional languages. While we have just 10 titles in Marathi the same is not available for immediate release as they have to be validated by a state government. However, we will share other titles that are in English and Hindi. Further, we are also in the process of making our content compatible with [GNU]Linux platform and hence for the present we will be sharing only such titles which are compatible with both windows and Linux and those that have been tested. The remaining titles would be shared on a future date and on completion of testing. We will be clustering our titles in a couple of DVD’s and send it across to you in the next week…. We also wish to state that there is a process that needs to be followed in implementing the Digital Learning Resource in schools which we will share the same with you once you confirm the receipt of Digital Learning Resource

And: “A note of caution — our Digital Learning Resource are not meant to help in computer literacy. The target group is children in the age group of 6-14 years and the Digital Learning Resource primarily presents concepts related to Maths, Science and Language related to the curriculum for classes Standard I to Standard VIII.”

By way of background, from their website:

Azim Premji Foundation has commenced the digital content creation effort in the year 2002. So far, Foundation has created over 100+ master CD titles for the classes 1 to 8 and the same have been translated into various regional languages in India including few tribal languages. The content is created with the pedagogical focus to enable the children to directly use and learn where the teacher will act as facilitator. The attributes of the content are; curriculum oriented, child-centered, self paced, interactive and multimedia based content.”

You probably know that Azim Premji is the Chairman and CEO of one of India’s largest software companies, Wipro. Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azim_Premji] says he was rated the richest man in India between 1999 to 2005 (and is probably among the top five now).

This impressed me:

Premji is known for his modesty and frugality in spite of his wealth. He drives a Toyota Corolla and flies economy class, prefers to stay in company guest houses rather than luxury hotels and even served food on paper plates at a lunch honouring his son’s wedding.”

Check it out. Really useful stuff. The educational content on the DVDs, I mean!

[1] Head – Technology for Education, Azim Premji

Foundation, #134, Doddakannelli, Next to Wipro Corporate Office,

Sarjapur Road, Bangalore – 560 035 Tel: 91-80-66144900/901/902

(Board) 91-80-66144922 (Direct) Fax: 91-80-66144903 Mobile:

09449820054 www.azimpremjifoundation.org

August 9, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Free-to-use, Indian software | 2 Comments

Yobler.com … educational videos

“Yobler.com is a website where users share educational videos, audios and articles with their friends. The purpose of this website is to build the largest educational online community where users also have the power to market their videos.” http://www.yobler.com

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August 8, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Resources | Leave a comment

Educational power points….

Friends at Sangath pointed to this site, that contains tonnes of educational presentations (Power Points, mostly). Check it out: http://pppst.com/ Pete’s Power Point Station.

It describes itself thus: “Free presentations in PowerPoint format, and free interactive activities for kids.”

Links to resources in language, arts, math, science, social studies, seasonal and special themes, reading and writing, art music drama and dance, plants and animals, health and safety, abc’s fairy tales, physical education, geography, nutrition and the food pyramid, three branches of government, reading comp, countries and continents and regions, adhd and special need kids, rhyming words and confusing words, parts of speech, world languages, ancient history, bullying, library skills, children’s literature and authors, advertising and propaganda, world history, codes and ciphers and secret messages, clip art, templates, tutorials and more…

Quite a useful site this!

August 5, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Teacher resources, Websites | Leave a comment

Taking sharing to the classroom

The case for Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FOSS) in schools … this is a paper I put together for IOSN (International Open Source Network, South Asia) in Chennai.

It was a learning experience working on it. You can read or download the whole paper from here: http://www.divshare.com/download/3321637-94c

A quote:

In the text above, one is presented with more than just hints of the
varied and many possibilities that FOSS opens up for schools in South Asia.
There is clearly a profusion of tools available, which needs to be
adequately exploited. As of now, however, the lack of easy-to-access FOSS skills could cause a setback in the spread of Free/Libre and Open Source Software in South Asia. The lack of widespread awareness of these tools among educators, and importantly even those drafting the curricula, remains a matter for concern. Steps taken in this regard could go a long way in building a firm basis for the spread of FOSS, in schools and beyond.

August 5, 2008 Posted by | Educational, Free Software, Resource listings, Teacher resources, Websites | Leave a comment

Computer education for rural kids riddled with obstacles

By Frederick Noronha

There are plans afoot to computerise thousands of rural schools across India, attended mainly by poor children. But where is the software that is suitable for use in these schools?
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WHY IS it easier for Indian school students to use the computer to study the geography of the United States, rather than know the states of their own country better? What is the fate of students in non-English schools who want to learn how to use computers optimally? In a word, are we producing suitable software to cope with the needs of our own schools?

These issues come up regularly to haunt educationists keen to give school-children better access to computers. More so, when the students come from underprivileged or poor backgrounds, are familiar only with regional languages, and study in resource-poor government schools.

“Availability of suitable (educational software) material in the Kannada language is next to nil,” complains engineer S Jayaraman. He is a consultant to the Azim Premji Foundation (APF), a philanthropic network started by Bangalore’s prominent IT house.

The APF has plans to computerise around a thousand rural schools, attended mainly by children of the poor. So far it has managed around three dozen. This too has not been problem-free. Plans to set up these ‘community learning centres’ which could be used in the evenings by general villagers have, among other things, been hit by a lack of relevant software.

“Some of the (commercial software producers) are offering syllabus-based learning,” says Jayaram. Much of the ‘educational software’ available is in English, and better suited to foreign students rather than Indian needs. Others firms have simply taken textbooks and dumped it onto a CD.

Some of the other problems the Azim Premji Foundation has to struggle with include finding sufficiently motivated teachers close-by, difficult infrastructure (high and ultra low-voltage power), reluctance of school authorities to open access to villagers outside school hours, and the like.

But the Foundation is already reporting that putting computers in rural schools has boosted attendance, and that admissions to otherwise-ignored government schools has also improved.

APF has been able to make use of two specific software — one a Karnataka-based treasure hunt, giving information on the state’s various districts; and the other called ‘Brainstorm’ that helps students practise simple Arithmetic concepts.

C V Madhukar of the APF stresses that the foundation has taken up “primary education as our target, not so much as philanthropy but more as problem-solving”. He said the possible agenda on this front could revolve around computer-based content creation (either teacher-centred or child-centred content); TV-based content; setting up Community Learning Centres; and facilitate the donation of used PCs from companies to schools.

Tia Sircar of the Bangalore-based TeLC (The e-Learning Consortium) also stresses the need to look at the ‘content needs’ of the Indian rural masses. She points to the success of some experiments like the Pratham initiative of computer training in Mumbai, which Sircar says has been a “vast success”.

Sircar concedes that students across the country feel the need to study English. But without regional language software, the aim of making India a computer-literate nation would simply not happen, as educationists agree.

Others wanting to promote computers in schools have also faced similar problems. From the west coast, the Goa Computers-in-Schools Project (GCSP) is an Internet-based alliance between overseas Goans and those here to help spur on attempts to give schools in the state access to more computers.

Recently, the GCSP managed to finally get the Central government to allow Customs-free import of once-used computers from abroad to non-elitist, non-commercial privately run schools. This is particularly relevant in Goa, a state where much of school education is privately managed.

Such measures could allow overseas expats to send in donated and once-used computers by the containerful, on just paying the freight charges. But software questions remain. In the past too, some linked to this network have raised questions about the ethics of using pirated proprietorial software in schools, where students are supposed to be taught to follow a principled approach to life.

Other approaches are being tried out. Aware of this acute lack of educational software, the small but active network across India that promotes Open Source and ‘free’ software is also beginning to pay some attention to the issue.

Prof Nagarjuna G of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai has set up a Internet based mailing-list to study the potential in school education of GNU-Linux, the Open Source and ‘free’ software. Life can be contacted via Life-admin@hbcse.tifr.res.inThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it while the website is at http://hbcse.tifr.res.in/mailman/listinfo/life

There are other global websites like linuxforkids.com which offer megabytes for education software on a CD for prices ranges between three to six dollars. Programs offered include First_math (a maths quiz game), Anton (a challenging maths game), Cindrella (commercial interactive geometry software), Linux Letters (learning game for children from 2-up for letters and numbers), TuxType (typing tutor), Gnerudite (a Scrabble-clone), Across (to generate your own crossword puzzles), Qvocab (to increase your foreign language vocabulary), Lingoteach (to learn foreign languages), Atomix (a molecule-creation game), LOGO (tool for children to learn programming).

This might be helpful, but doesn’t quite solve the main problem at hand.

Linux is still, unfortunately, seen as a “geeks’ operating system”. So, support available is relatively limited, specially in remote rural areas. In addition, again the problem of having relevant, local-language educational software remains.

On the positive side, there are some signs of hope. Local GNU-Linux enthusiasts are showing signs of growing interest to build India-relevant software applications, and the educational sector could benefit too.

Committed supporters of Linux do appreciate that for their Operating System to grow in popularity, it should have something specifically relevant to Indian needs. Bangalore incidentally could be called one of the Linux capitals of India, with its active network of supporters and enthusiasts who showcase their work through events like the IT.com in November and the Banglinux held in early summer each year.

Others are also trying out their own initiatives.

Dr Pavanaja, a scientist who was earlier with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai and now devotes his time to promoting computer usage in Kannada through the Kannada Ganaka Parishad (see vishwakannada.com), agrees that relevant software is sorely lacking in regional languages.

“The only field IT has failed to change dramatically is education. Computers can remake education. It is indeed time to begin,” says he.

He points to his own initiatives. ‘Kannada-Kali’ is a software that generates a jig-saw puzzle from Kannada alphabets. One has to fit the pieces in the right place, thus enabling youngsters or those not knowing the Kannada language to practise on its alphabet. “I don’t claim you can learn Kannada using this. But it is an entry point,” says Dr Pavanaja.

He has also put together a Kannada version of LOGO, the logic-oriented, graphic-oriented software that is used as a tool to teach young children the basic concepts needed for programming. It is still under development. So far, only a few keywords required for the LOGO program have been completed. Some 300 more keywords are yet to be done.

Dr Pavanaja is more than open to the idea of freely sharing his ‘intellectual property’. In fact, the Kannada-Kali program has a prominently distributed message: “Feel free to distribute this among your Kannada friends.” In such a situation of scarcity, it is indeed laudable to see some of those working on such themes to be more than willing to share the fruit of their labour generously, without thinking about monetary gain.

Of course, at the end of the day, much of the Indian educational software scarcity simply boils down to a question of economics. In spite of their millions-strong numbers, the rural dweller simply doesn’t have the purchasing power. So why should anyone bother with writing software specifically for him? Even if this is a country that is increasingly claiming the status of being the world’s software superpower.

(Frederick Noronha is a freelance journalist based in Goa-India interested in developmental issues)

http://infochangeindia.org/2001010476/Education/Features/Computer-education-for-rural-kids-riddled-with-obstacles.html

January 4, 2001 Posted by | Educational, Free Software, Proprietorial Software | , , | 1 Comment