The Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) movement is gaining momentum as universities are fast embracing the collaborative and scalable education technology. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, (BAMU), Aurangabad, is the latest educational institution to join the bandwagon. It has just signed an Memorandum of Understandng with IIT- B for rolling out the latter's Spoken Tutorial Project (STP) for its students, who will now get training in skill-based IT absolutely free of cost.
IIT- Bombay has so far trained over two lakh students nation wide. It is for the first time that IIT- B is signing such an MoU with any university.
A spoken tutorial is an audio-video teaching experience that explains an activity performed on the computer. It is a recording of an actual session. As a result, it can capture every step that is required to explain an activity. This completeness, combined with an accompanying audio-video tutorial makes the spoken tutorial the best way to document and explain software or a computer based activity.
In his article on the subject published in the CIS Communications, a knowledge digest for the IT Community a couple of years ago, professor Kannan M. Moudgalya, Member, Standing Committee, National Mission on Education through ICT, explains the STP mechanism as follows. An expert explains the working of software by demonstrating it on the screen, along with a running commentary. Screencast software makes a movie of the entire activity, both the screen and the spoken part. "This movie is the spoken tutorial. The running commentary can be in English or in any other language," professor Modgalya writes.
STP promotes the learning and usage of FOSS.
About 30 IT courses have been prepared for the benefit of both engineering and non-engineering graduates. The course modules, which cover coding laguages like C,C++, Java, PHP, Linux, LaTeX and MySQL to name a few, are taught using the offline audio-video teaching tools. Experts however say that these courses will especially benefit those who specialise in computer applications.
"We are working towards spreading IT literacy across the country under the Central Government's National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (ICT)," says Shyama Iyer, national coordinator, training, Spoken Tutorial, IIT-B. "The course, which is free of cost is a skill-focused training and aims to increase the students' employability. Moreover, since it is an offline course, there is no cost for internet either," says Iyer.
VM Pandharipande, vice chancellor, BAMU, says, "This project is a medium to create self learners rather than spoon fed individuals." The BAMU chief wants to promote interactive learning at his university.
Very soon, a team of spoken tutorial experts will descend on BAMU to train its professors. The professors in turn will mentor students who sign up for these tutorials. "Students will get at least a month to finish the course. However, since the focus of this activity is to learn at your own pace, the duration can be extended if required," says Pandharipande. Post completion of the course, students will have to appear for an online test, following which they will be certified by Spoken Tutorial, IIT- B.