Software For Kids

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February 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

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.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Classmate PC…

Intel’s lower-cost computer for kids.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Taking FLOSS to the classroom, industry-style

Confederation of Indian Industry initiative Shiksha India helps promote use of technology for making teaching-learning more effective. Focus areas are content and coaching. Gurgaon-based project manager Narinder Bhatia narinder.bhatia at ciionline.org explains what the emphasis is on.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

EDC, the Education Development Centre

Victor Paul, PhD, the country director of the Educational Development Centre at Bangalore-India http://www.edc.org explains what is the agenda of this organisation promoting, among other things, educational software in schools.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quest Alliance: promising quality education, skills training

The Quality Education and Skills Training Alliance (QUEST) is a partnership of public, private and NGO. Aakash Sethi who leads this Bangalore-based organisation explains what its priorities are. Quest partners include a number of big names include Microsoft Corporation, Azim Premji Foundation, Byrraju Foundation, Education Development Center, G E Foundation, One World South Asia, Pratham, USAID, WIPRO Technologies, etc.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Video + school = videoshala

When video starts being educational in parts of Gujarat (western India), it gets called videoshala. Shala is the world for school. Deepika explains the concept behind VideoShala.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thanks you, Mr Premji

Indian software czar Azim Premji has diverted some of his (and his team’s) energies into creating “not for sale” educational resources for children. As one goes about telling others about the potential of the software from azimpremjifoundation.org, five-year-old Aren is a willing accomplice in making the point. It’s fun to use (and, at zero-price, easy to access). Wish more could use it! But it really needs to reach schools catering to the under-priviledged, so that the social role of such software could be met.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

FLOSS … and computer usage in education

“Open Source and education has a lot of mindshare match,”: says Dr. M Sasikumar, Principal Research Scientist and Incharge of the R&D Unit at the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) in Navi Mumbai. An interview with a passionate supporter of FLOSS in education.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Thanks you, Mr Premji

Indian software czar Azim Premji has diverted some of his (and his team’s) energies into creating “not for sale” educational resources for children. As one goes about telling others about the potential of the software from azimpremjifoundation.org, five-year-old Aren is a willing accomplice in making the point. It’s fun to use (and, at zero-price, easy to access). Wish more could use it! But it really needs to reach schools catering to the under-priviledged, so that the social role of such software could be met.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Images from a symposium

Some images from the ET Symposium, a meet on educational technologies, held in Bangalore in end-August 2008. Doesn’t claim to be a complete report by any stretch of imagination. See http://www.questalliance.net

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

IITians attempt to teach (tiny kids, in FLOSS)

An interesting experiment to teach schoolkids about the power of Free/Libre and Open Source Software. An interview with Dr Farida Umrani. Umrani is Research Associate
at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay Powai, Mumbai – 400076 Maharashtra
Cell no. 9323267196 She has been working with Prof. Sridhar Iyer at Dept of Computer Science, IIT Bombay on content development for school computer science based on Edubuntu.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Learning, teaching, learning… Free Software

At the August 2008 GNU/LUG (GNU/Linux Users’ Group) meet in Miramar, Goa, participants share knowledge and ideas about Stellarium, the astronomical free software product. An example of how teaching and learning, and the sharing of useful knowledge, happens at a Free/Libre and Open Source Software network. Check it out.

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Digital Study Hall (DSH)

Netflix + YouTube + Kazaa take all of these together, and give it an educational focus. What you have is the Digital StudyHall (DSH). It is being described as “a research project that seeks to improve education for the poor children in slum and rural schools
in India.”

How does it work?

We digitally record live classes by the best grassroots teachers, transmit them on the “Postmanet” (effected by DVDs sent in the postal system), collect them in a large distributed database, and distribute them on DVDs to poor rural and slum schools. Education experts and teachers use the system to explore pedagogical approaches involving local teachers actively “mediating” the video lessons. By harvesting a “viral phenomenon” of community participation, DSH aims to help train teachers and deliver quality instruction to underprivileged children. The project is a collaboration between computer scientists and education experts.


The main aspects of DSH are:

A live deployment of DSH has been operating in India since the
summer of 2005. As of summer of 2008, we run pilot “hubs” in Lucknow, Calcutta, Pune, and Dhaka, covering approximately 30 schools. And during this time, we have accumulated more than 1000 recordings of lessons in English, math, and science, in Hindi, Bengali, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil, and English. We have also started applying the same approach to agriculture extension work (Digital Green) and awareness campaign for rural healthcare (Digital Polyclinic, operating in Lucknow and Ghana).

Today, DSH is still a young research project, as we continue to work on rigorous evaluations and seek to understand many outstanding questions. We have, however, already seen initial promising signs, and we hope to eventually scale up the system to cover a far greater number of children, contributing toward the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.

SOURCE: http://dsh.cs.washington.edu/

August 7, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ET? What’s that?

QUEST Alliance executive director Aakash Sethi — writing on behalf of the America India Foundation, Education Development Center, Intel Education and QUEST Alliance — via ET Symposium <etsymposium@gmail.com> informs about a Symposium on Education & Technology in Schools…Converging for Innovation & Creativity. It is being organised by QUEST Alliance along with America India Foundation, Education Development Center, and Intel Education.

Sethi says: “The symposium will be held from 20th to 22nd August, 2008 at the Atria Hotel, 1 Palace Road, Bangalore. It will bring together education and education technology practitioners, policy makers, scholars and experts, academicians and students for an exchange of ideas and to showcase innovations on educational technology in India. The symposium is designed to encourage in-depth dialogue and explore different perspectives on issues and challenges related to technology use in Indian classrooms.”

He says this symposium will highlight current work on how technology is improving education, around the world, and in India. Keynote speakers include Dr. Robert Kozma, Emeritus Director and Principal Scientist at the Center for Technology in Learning at Stanford Research Institute International in Menlo Park, California; Dr. Nancy Law, Professor and Director of the Centre for Information Technology in Education at the University of Hong Kong; Dr. Punya Mishra, Associate professor of Educational Technology at Michigan State University; Dr. Geetha Narayan, Founder and Director of Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology and Dr Daniel Light, a senior scientist at EDC’s Centre for Children and Technology.

The symposium, according to its organisers, is designed to include plenary sessions during the first two days followed by four half day workshops with the experts on various themes relevant to technology and education in India on the third day. This forum will offer a good opportunity to understand conceptual frameworks for integrating technology in education and think through practical issues and challenges for doing the same.

Further details at http://www.questalliance.net

August 5, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 4000-rupee computer shows up in Goa

OLPC

Rut Pinto Viegas Jesus (yellow, right), demos a model of the OLPC at Miramar.

PANJIM, Jan 30: Goa, a small state with some early initiatives at
taking computing to students and school, scored another early attempt
when the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer was demoed here at a
low-profile event.

The One Laptop per Child association (OLPC) is a non-profit
organization, created by faculty members of the MIT Media Lab, set up
to oversee The Children’s Machine project and the construction of the
XO-1 “$100 laptop”.

This tiny and unusual computer was demoed at the monthly meeting of
ILUG-Goa, the Free Software and Open Source user group that meets at
the Goa Science Centre in Miramar, last Saturday (Jan 26, 2008).

The XO-1, previously known as the $100 Laptop or Children’s Machine,
is an inexpensive laptop computer intended to be distributed to
children in “developing: countries around the world, to provide them
with access to knowledge, and opportunities to “explore, experiment and
express themselves” (constructionist learning).

The laptops can be sold to governments and issued to children by
schools on a basis of one laptop per child. Pricing is currently set to
start at US$188 and the goal is to reach the $100 mark in 2008.

But such computers are hard to come by here. This is more so as
India rejected the initiative, saying “it would be impossible to
justify an expenditure of this scale on a debatable scheme when public
funds continue to be in inadequate supply for well-established needs
listed in different policy documents.”

Ms. Rut Pinto Viegas Jesus, a Copenhagen-based PhD researcher of
Goan-Portuguese ancestry, managed to bring down one model of the
computer, while visiting Goa on holiday and a family visit to her
relations in Santa Cruz and Salcete.

OLPC, which has caused a lot of excitement worldwide, and promises
to take computing to children in the less-affluent world, espouses five
core principles — child ownership; low ages; saturation; connection;
and free and open source.

Incidentally, inspite of its small size and otherwise technological
low-rating, Goa has managed to undertake some initiatives in spreading
the use of computers, albeit with mixed results.

In the 1990s, expat Goans supported and launched the Goa Computers
in Schools Project (GCSP), which despite the odds and a number of
hurdles, shipped in a couple of containers of once-used computers, to
be refurbished and used in some local schools. Nearly 400+ computers
were distributed this way.

After the BJP government came to power in 2000, then chief minister
Manohar Parrikar launched the hi-visibility Cyberage scheme, which gave
almost-free computers to college students.

So far, the jury is out on the Cyberage scheme, with some questioning its priorities.

Critics focus on the shortcomings of a scheme which gave tens of
thousands of computers to students — sometimes more than one in a
family — without clear plans for using the same, even while school
computer labs and teachers sometimes lacked the facilities.

Meanwhile, the GCSP project was itself scaled down and wound up, due
to factors ranging from donor-fatigue and a lack of volunteers, to the
growing availability of computer hardware here, which was not as costly
as it once was.

Rut, visiting Goa this week, is doing her PhD in Copenhagen, on
issues related to the Wikipedia, the surprisingly-successful
volunteer-driven online encyclopedia that has built itself into one of
the top ten most-visited sites in the world.

Her to visit her grandmum and family in Santa Cruz and “to get some
sun”, she said: “I’m also keen to meet other Goans interested in the
stuff I am, and will bring my newly arrived XO-1 (OLPC) and that might
also be interesting.”

Earlier in January 2008, Free Software and Open Source campaigner
Venkatesh ‘Venky’ Hariharan shared his experiences in visiting an the
OLPC deployment in Khairat, which is around 55 kilometres outside
Mumbai.

This deployment is supported by Reliance, one of the largest industrial groups in India, and is the first in India.

“The deployment is two months old and the parents, children and
teachers are very enthusiastic about this project,” reported Venky.

At the meet in Miramar, local techies, educationists and others
showed interest in the computer-for-kids, while Rut Jesus explained how
the project worked. Her friends have been involved in the project,
which she praised as “very self-motivated”.

Some voiced disappointment that India had turned down the project
without giving it a good try. Educators decried the policy of keeping
students away from playing around with technology and hard-ware.

Others pointed to tools like Gcompris, a free software suite for
children between 2 to 10 years of age, and their potential to make
learning computing a pleasurable activity.

Some queries focussed on its innovative screen, the ability to use
it “as a book”, the XO-1’s ability to ‘mesh network’ with other
computers of its kind, and how young techies could get access to the
code and specifications needed for them to contribute software back to
the project.

January 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why Free Software makes sense in education

http://www.expresscomputeronline.com/20031006/indiacomputes02.shtml

The name is confusing, which may explain why Free Software
isn’t as well known as Open Source. FREDERICK NORONHA makes an attempt to clear
the air

Riza is nearly five. For her, the computer is a toy.
Instead of adding one more difficult ‘subject’ to her tiring school-day, she
occasionally plays educational games on the PC.

When her friends come over, they end up
learning without even being conscious of it. One girl her age, who’s never handled
computers before, drags on the mouse. As she moves it across the mouse-pad the
image of a furry bear gets jerkily unveiled on the monitor. Another kid dances
to the music of ‘Bump And Jump’—a piece of software written by a team of Swedish
students.

The best part is that nobody paid for the
CD these kids are using. It’s not pirated either. You can run it off any computer
by just booting up from your CD-ROM drive. It comes in a ‘distro’ (distribution)
called FreEDUC. See http://www.ofset.org/projects/edusoft/edusoft.html for more details.

Free Software is creating whole new opportunities,
and the educational system is one of its major beneficiaries globally. You have
Free Software tools to help students at all levels—from those studying in the
kindergarten to those studying complex streams of engineering. But are we in
India sitting up and taking notice?

Why ‘Free’?

Let’s start at the beginning: Its name,
which might be a bit confusing. The ‘Free’ refers to ‘Freedom’ and not a zero-cost
price. Free Software and its more-recent offshoot, Open Source, give users a
number of ‘freedoms.’ Unlike in the world of proprietary (pay-per-computer)
software, the user has the right to run a Free Software program for any purpose,
study how it works, redistribute copies, and also improve the program and release
improvements to the public.

In real terms, this means that it is extremely
difficult for anyone to charge you huge amounts for that software you so badly
need to make your PC productive—something very relevant for a resource-poor,
talent-rich country like India.

Also, because knowledge is so freely shared,
Free Software allows for very low-entry barriers. Anyone can see the source
code of a program (without which you wouldn’t have a clue how it works) or contact
coders who have played a key role in writing the program itself.

Niranjan Rajani, a South Asian researcher
based in Finland, recently put together a study titled ‘Free as in Education:
Significance of the Free/Libre and Open Source Software for Developing Countries
(FLOSS)’ In the study Rajani highlights the benefits of FLOSS. (See http://www.maailma.kaapeli.fi/FLOSS_for_dev.html)

Explains Rajani, “Take the example
of education. In terms of computer education, FLOSS has no match. Nothing else
provides as much value to learners as FLOSS does. You’re free to tinker with
the code. Not only that, you can get in touch with the people who wrote the
code and ask why this or that was done in a particular piece of code.”
In addition, “FLOSS has a complementary and reciprocal relationship with
education. One needs an educated section of the population to realise the full
potential of FLOSS, but at the same time FLOSS helps, enhances, and complements
education by providing tools to promote learning.”

It’s not just computer education

Free Software has a bigger role to play,
and here are ten good reasons why.

  • Not by bread alone. Because Free Software
    evangelists are not motivated solely by money, chances are that they will
    work in areas that have the highest social need, and not just those that pay
    attention to the fancies of the rich. It’s no coincidence that education is
    high on their agenda, both in India and abroad.
  • Anyone can get involved. Entry barriers
    in contributing to Free Software are very low. Educators can, and are, shaping
    this movement and how responsive it is to the needs of education.
  • Indian concerns, Indian developers. FLOSS
    makes it easy for anyone with a bright idea—and the motivation—to contribute
    to an exciting global network. In addition, the software world shows us that
    people contribute their skills and work not for money but to help others and
    share knowledge. They do it “just for fun” or because they find
    it a challenging task. They do it to develop new skills, or even in anticipation
    of indirect rewards (like improving their job opportunities).
  • Affordability. Though the ‘Free’ of Free
    Software is not about price, in cash-strapped countries like India the affordability
    of this tool makes it particularly suitable for deployment in education.
  • Worldwide support community. To scare
    users from using Free Software, one rumour floating around is that a handful
    of companies are behind this global campaign. Yet once a region builds up
    its skills—and we’re getting there in India—these skills spread fast. Dozens
    or hundreds of mailing-lists and newsgroups now exist that offer support from
    a worldwide community of users and programmers.
  • Indian-language solutions. If there are
    a few volunteers, it is possible to make rapid strides in Indianising software
    even in regional languages which proprietarial software companies might not
    see as viable. We can’t restrict computing and technology to the English-language
    speakers in this part of the globe. Networks like the Indic-computing-users
    mailing list are doing interesting work on this front.(See http://indic-computing.sourceforge.net/)
  • Adapt, rebuild, reuse. You don’t have
    to re-invent the wheel. Anyone interested can adapt existing software to his
    needs. In tiny Goa, the local chapter of India Linux Users Groups rebuilt
    a distro that can be easily installed in schools by even unskilled people.

As West Bengal’s Sankarshan Mukhopadhyay—a
proponent of FLOSS who’s behind the FLOSSToday network that announces Free Software
developments in India—revealed recently, “My friends have successfully
implemented LTSP (a terminal-server that allows for the use of earlier generation
hardware) with graphics thanks to the wonderful Goa Schools CD.”

Adds Arun, who is a developer and proponent
of the GNU project from South India, “We have tested gcompris in Malayalam,
a language spoken by over 30 million people but still awaiting computing solutions
in many spheres. Some games like typing tutor need to be modified for Indian
languages.” gcompris (French for ‘I understand’) is an international educational
software.

  • The interest is there. In India itself
    a number of groups are working to adapt Free Software to education. There’s
    even one called LIFE. This list may be contacted at life@mm.hbcse.tifr.res.in
  • If this won’t work, nothing will. In the
    software world, the FLOSS movement has shown its ability to produce results.
    Maybe even better results than the dominant model of software production.

Pointers to getting started

Using Free Software often means that you
need an additional operating system (OS) to run it. (Some software on CDs like
GNUWin or The Open CD run on the Windows platform. But this is rare.) You can
install a new OS alongside an existing OS like Windows, provided you have the
space for it.

You should also be able to access much
of your earlier work in GNU/Linux, unless it is created under proprietarial
file formats. GNU/Linux-based computing can achieve almost everything that a
computer run on proprietarial software can—and more.

Free Software CDs can be download from
the Net (a laborious process given the slow lines most of us use in India),
or copied quite legally from friends. They can even be purchased from outlets
in Bangalore or Mumbai, Belgaum or Pondicherry, at a price of Rs 25-50 per CD.
Many Indian cities have GNU/Linux user-groups called LUGs or GLUGs. Find a list
on http://www.linux-india.org or check gnu.org.in. Paid services are also available,
but if you are expecting friendly neighbourhood support, a little bit of politeness
could bring you the kind of support that money simply can’t buy.

Bookmarks
  • For a listing of case-studies of GNU/Linux’s use in education,
    visit http://casestudy.seul.org
  • Schoolforge works to promote free and open resources for education.
    Join Schoolforge-discuss at http://schoolforge.net/sfdiscuss.php. One
    condition is that members must participate in discussions. As the volunteers
    say, “We are all busy, but we are doing our best to collaborate
    whenever possible.” They also encourage the setting up of Schoolforge
    units and meeting places.
  • Recently, a project has been started to produce a free school administration
    software package. It is at the planning stage, and needs volunteers
    to help define the requirements of the system and assist with the construction
    of it. See http://schooltool.sourceforge.net
  • Some useful mailing lists include the demo-schools network in South
    India (demo-schools-discuss@nongnu.org), the international Schoolforge
    (schoolforge-discuss@schoolforge.net), and the Linux-Delhi schools network
    (school@linux-delhi.org).
  • Also see linuxforkids.com and http://www.ofset.org
Tools available

Below are some of the tools available with the gcompris, drgenius and
other GNU/Linux packages.

  • junior-math: Basic arithmetic. Q&A.
  • junior-toys: Simple toys to adorn your desktop.
  • junior-typing: Typing tutor.
  • tuxtype: Educational Typing Tutor Game starring Tux.
  • gperiodic: Periodic Table.
  • ding # Language learning. (default: German-English.)
  • 12e: English to Spanish translation dictionary. Multiple versions
    of pool (billiards) games.
  • ksokoban: Excellent game to teach logic.
  • mathwar: A flash card game designed to teach maths.
  • garlic: [Chemistry] A free molecular visualisation programme.
  • ghemical: A GNOME molecular modelling environment.

(Also Debian junior games for the network, simulation games, text-based
games, junior Internet tools, junior programming, junior puzzles, junior
system tools and ucblogo—a dialect of lisp using turtle graphics
famous for teaching kids.)

October 6, 2003 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment