India's E-learning Portal Launches with OpenSource
by Mark Rais, senior editor reallylinux.com INTERNATIONAL NEWS
A new e-learning and collaborative training portal was just launched during an awards ceremony for attendees of Shiksha India Trust. What makes Shiksha unique is that one core phase of the development of India's educational e-learning is explicitly based on Open Source tools and initiatives.
Part of the significant Confederation of India Industries (CII), Shiksha India Trust is dedicated to the development and education of India's youth and relies heavily on Open Source tools.
The honourable DR. A.P.J. ABDUL KALAM, President of India, attended the Shiksha Awards Ceremony, where the e-learning portal was launched. The President attended the ceremony as the chief guest where he presented awards for excellence in educational development to three teachers and one principal.
The President then used the occasion to launch a new educational portal and shared insights regarding the essentials for India's further development as a knowledge society. Technology, especially driven on Linux and Open Source in general, remains core to India's future.
The honourable DR. A.P.J. ABDUL KALAM, President of India (right) officially launching the portal, with CII-Shiksha Narinder Bhatia (front left).
The new portal will become a key tool for the delivery and development of educational content for use by teachers, experts and students throughout the nation. The core content will cover a number of areas including physics, chemistry, math, biology, geography in multiple languages (English, Hindi, Tamil and eventually others).
As the President stated in his speech, "The whole purpose of education in a country like India is to develop and enhance the potential of our human resources and progressively transform it into a knowledge society."
He then added, "This can be done only through quality teachers and with quality content."
In speaking with Narinder Bhatia, a technology leader for Shiksha India Trust, he shared how Open Source software such as Moodle was providing technology access and coordination in some of India's poorest schools. I also asked him whether Shiksha would consider using other Linux tools such as the Linux Terminal Server Project (LTSP thin clients) to which he responded with a resounding "Yes." Narider views Open Source as a beneficial and integral part of their strategy.
The dynamic of socio-economic development in India is perhaps exceptionally suited towards Open Source use, as it relies substantially on the benefits of open and free software.
"I was studying different dimensions of knowledge society and how will it be different from the industrial Economy. The education system instead of going by text book teaching will be promoted by creative, interactive self learning," the President stated.
In this light, one of the key ingredients, besides educational e-learning content, is the necessity of providing broadband access to rural regions of India. As the President acknowledged, the availability of such a network will ensure that there can be "sustainable and exponential growth."
The education portal, and the work of organisations like CII - Shiksha India Trust will substantively help to serve the needs of the five hundred million Indian youth. Most importantly, the portal and the use of Open Source and Linux offer these youth a mechanism for personalised and localised education.
CII - Shiksha and its e-learning portal is yet another signifier that Open Source can be an integral part of driving the educational development for an entire nation.
Rais serves as senior editor for Reallylinux.com, promotes Open Source to
organizations and government leadership in USA, Asia and Africa, and has
written a number of Linux books and articles on the subject of Linux and
education. NOTE: Reallylinux.com donated funds and computers to
CII-Shiksha India Trust to further promote Linux use.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds. All other trademarks or registered trademarks in this opinion piece belong to their respective owners.