November 11, 2010
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
“Interested in learning Free and Open Source Software? In your mother-tongue? Look no further!!!”
This interesting message greets visitors to the Spoken Tutorial website, maintained as part of the MHRD initiative Talk to A Teacher. The website aims to make available simple tutorials that can enable Indian students easily learn advanced software such as LaTeX, Scilab and Python.
“Our objective is to pass on the knowledge of technology and free and open source software to as many students as possible,” stated Dr. Kannan Moudgalya, Professor at IIT Bombay and Head of the Talk to a Teacher program.
Dr. Kannan was recently in Amrita addressing students and faculty, highlighting the need for such tutorials that could encourage students to become independent and self exploring.
In recent years, the free and open source software movement has made several specialized software packages available to all who need them, without having to pay for them. The software is liberally licensed and grants users the right to use, study, change and improve its design.
Dr. Kannan’s goal is to take this movement one step further. “If we can have spoken tutorials on various free and open source software packages now available, then even students with no background in Computer Science or Information Technology can benefit,” he stated.
Inviting Amrita students to consider making these tutorials, Dr. Kannan elaborated on the procedure.
“A spoken tutorial teaches any computer-based activity with a screencast and a narration,” he explained. “The screencasting software easily captures activities on the screen. Together with a recorded narrative, the tutorial can be played back as a movie.”
After being made in one language, a tutorial could easily be dubbed in other Indian languages.
“Each of the tutorials, whether original or dubbed, goes through a strict review procedure,” he also informed. “Domain experts review the tutorial for accuracy. Following this review process, the tutorial is uploaded to the public domain.”
Why should students spend their time making tutorials, however? What would they gain?
“This would provide students the opportunity to learn the software, improve their employment prospects, prepare for certification exams, even improve their language skills,” noted Dr. Kannan.
“Moreover, they could earn upto Rs. 2000 per tutorial that is completed satisfactorily and finally uploaded to our website.”
Responded Shilpa R., a third-year student of Computer Science, “We learned that we could make even upto Rs 50,000 in one year; all we need to do is make one tutorial every two weeks!”
At this time, at least one new tutorial is added to the website every week. Perhaps that number will increase greatly in the coming days as the Indian student community responds to Dr. Kannan’s call and participates; helping take software education to the masses to bridge the digital divide.