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Projects

This page gives information about the two activities being carried out at CDAC, Mumbai under NRCFOSS-Phase II.

Project Name: Enhancing Accessibility for FOSS Desktops.

Implementing Agency: Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Mumbai.

Background: In today's scenario, the use of ICT is embeded in daily routine of our lives. It is no longer optional or luxury, but a necessity for quality of life. As of now, a large section of the population in India is unable to use ICT due to the language divide. The disabled people is the next category of concern. This includes the visually impaired (fully or partially blind), hearing impaired, people with cognitive disabilities, people with motor disabilities etc.. Some amount of work has been done in adapting standard speech synthesis and recognition tools to address the needs of the visually impaired. However, little attention has so far been given to the vast variety of other disabilities.

Introduction: The purpose of this project is to understand the requirements for making the common computer desktop accessible to people with disabilities and develop/adopt software solutions to build such capability wherever possible. Hence, the work under this project aims to produce reusable and freely accessible software solutions and frameworks for building accessible applications in the desktop environment. In this way, this project looks at the practical aspects of accessibility by focusing on creation of tools in open source to address as many of the accessibility requirements as possible.

Current Status: Following figure gives the status of deliverables so far:

Accessibility project deliverables status
 

 

Any feedback/suggestions are welcome and can be send at sagun[at]cdac[dot]in.

 

Project Name: Building a Knowledge Base of FOSS in Education

Implementing Agency: Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Mumbai

 

Background: The availability of information of different types such as articles, research papers, blogs, discussion forums, newsgroups, mailing lists etc. spans a variety of fields. One of the major fields amongst these is  education and recent advancements in computer technology have witnessed growing relevance of free and open source softwares (FOSS) in education. The spectrum of resources available include general software resources, softwares for management of learning and learning institutions, software as learning resources (e.g., simulation tools), and open content.

Unfortunately, these resources are scattered across the Internet and are difficult to track down through usual web searches. In general, for most requirements (e.g. content management system, learning management system), one can find a variety of solutions. Some of these may be immature and stale with no active development community. Identifying such options is not always easy and is often a time consuming process.

On the other hand, we can also generally find multiple good solutions with differing capabilities and technical details. Mapping the various aspects of the solutions to the specific requirements of a user/client is another challenging task. The lack of a committed support community makes this further difficult for end users considering adoption of such solutions. Even getting a comprehensive and unbiased comparative analysis among selected alternatives can be difficult, though some such reports like, wikimatrix and cms matrix, are available for some of the domains. Social networks and blogs carry a lot of user experience information regarding use of various softwares and ideas. These experiences will help the users while selecting appropriate solutions. Identifying and gathering of these experiences from the web is another challenging problem.

All these issues make adoption of FOSS solutions a challenging problem for users who are not very technology savvy. Therefore a knowledge repository which can provide more direct responses to the kind of questions posed above would be a valuable part of any educational eco-system to promote use of technology, and will go a long way in encouraging technology adoption in education.

An associated challenge of building such a knowledge base is the difficulty in keeping it updated. New systems keep coming up, the situation/popularity of existing systems can change, significant enhancements may be added to systems, and so on. A mechanism – using a combination of approaches, since a fully automated system is not feasible as of now – need to be evolved to ensure that the knowledge repository is kept up to date on a regular basis.

 

This project attempts to build such comprehensive knowledge repository to contain and/or to link the resources that will facilitate the use of FOSS in the domain of education. This will help stakeholders, i.e. academia and professionals, in making informed decisions on the appropriate set of tools catering to their needs, infrastructure and capacity.

Given the plethora of information available over the world wide web, and its hyper-linked nature of resources, our approach exploits this linked structure of the web by performing systematic crawling of web to identify the useful resources, followed by an automated filtering of resources with regard to their relevance for FOSS in education. Automated classification of such relevant resources is performed using supervised machine learning methods to organize the information in a topographical structure that relate to the queries often posed by various stakeholders of such information. The repository of educational resources is envisaged to evolve on an automated basis via continuous harvesting of resources from the world wide web.


Current Status: As on 30th September, 2011.

currentStatus

 

 

Plan of Action:

  1. Conduct second national workshop
  2. Complete refinement of portal to make it operational
  3. Final testing phase
  4. Open portal for public use and feedback
  5. Release moodle course on "Indian Language Processing

 

Kindly send your suggestions/feedback to prashantm[at]cdac[dot]in.

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