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13 April 2011

Comments on National Policy on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) In School Education

Narendra Sisodiya Comments on National Policy on ICT in Education June 3.odt Download this file

The last date for Comment on (Revised Draft Dated 24.02.2011) National Policy on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) In School Education is 15 April. http://www.education.nic.in/secedu/sec_school.asp


URL for Revised Draft on National Policy on ICT is http://www.education.nic.in/secedu/Revised%20%20National%20Policy%20on%20ICT%20in%20Education%20June%203.pdf

Summery of Comments

  • Use FOSS in ICT

  • Use Open Standards (Ex - royaltee free codes ) in ICT

  • Use Open HTML5 for digital content creation in ICT

  • Use only those Hardware for which has open driver specification or driver available for all platform.

  • Avoid “Vendor Lock-In” at every level.



A . VIRUS FREE


Section 4.2 – Stage 1 Basic – Page 6 says


Connecting to the internet, using e-mail and web surfing, using search engines, keeping the

computer updated and virus free, operating and managing content from external devices

(sound recorders, digital cameras, scanners etc.); connect, disconnect, operate and

troubleshoot digital devices;


The Term Virus Free is do not fit well, because for getting virus one has to Install Windows Operating System. Problem of Virus is almost zero in Linux based Operating System. BOSS is a Linux based Operating System developed by CDAC. SchoolOS is supported by NCERT.



PURCHASE OF SOFTWARE


ICT Policy should dictate about what kind of software should be purchased


In table-furniture, the reproduction cost is not zero and every department of government has to buy Table furniture again and again. Software is not physical object like Table-Furniture. Software can be copied again and again. Reproduction cost of a software is zero. Software can be shared provided we have Copyrighter's permission to do so.


Almost all kind of software are available in FOSS. If Government find that some software is not suitable or not available as FOSS then Govt of India can develop or purchase a software and obtains license to use and distribute it. This will save a huge amount of money for repurchasing a piece of software again and again for same vendor.



D Implementation Strategies



Section 4.2.1 says - 4.2.1 A programme of ICT literacy will be implemented across all secondary schools in the

States, both government and private within the XI plan period.


Every year Hardware Cost decrease and Technologies Changes are very rapid. So Implementation should be done in one shot. We suggest for partial implementation in every 5 year. ICT policy must dictate for a feedback mechanism for better implementation keeping track on rapid change of technology


Section 4.2.2 says - 4.2.2 States will develop an ICT literacy curriculum and appropriate course materials mapped to the stages mentioned above for uniformity. These will be in the form of self-instructional materials, enabling students and teachers to process them on their own. The ICT literacy programme will endeavour to provide a broad set of generic skills and

conceptual knowledge and not focus on mastering the use of specific software applications.


ICT literacy curriculum and appropriate course materials should be developed at central node. This is a common task which can be done at central place.


5. ICT Infrastructure

5.1 Hardware Driver Specification must be available



ICT policy should dictate to use hardware for which Driver Specifications is available. For example, Vendor A create a hardware and it give driver B to run that hardware on a particular Operating System platform example Windows XP. This will produce a kind of Vendor Lock in of a Hardware. If After some year, you want to install another OS then hardware may or may not work because Vendor A has created driver B for only particular OS. Vendor A must create driver for all Operating System also Vendor A must publish driver specifications so that anyother vendor may provide a newer version of driver. This is needed because Vendor A may disappear from market from some day we will be having his “CLOSE” vendor-locked hardware.


Production of Hardware by Government


Since India is very big, ICT implementation need to be done at such a large scale. Let me give example for “Computer Mouse”. For example, If Indian Government want to buy 100 Crore Computer mouse and give to every citizen of India then I think it is much better to produce “computer mouse” rather then by buying it from foreign company. This is just a small example but scenario is same.


Do NOT waste Money on SMART Whieboard


Now a days you can find a good number of foreign companies selling SMART Whiteboard. SMART Whiteboard is just a Multi-touch Projector. Companies are charging 1+ lakh ruppe for such device. SMART whiteboard is a fancy item and it do not add any value to classroom. Even if you want to purchase SMART Whiteboard then you can create SMART Whiteboard in Rupee 500 -

Here is the Website - http://www.webcam-whiteboard.com/


5.1.3 Each school will be equipped with at least one computer laboratory with at least 10

networked computers to begin with. Each laboratory will have a maximum of 20 computers,

accommodating 40 students at a time. A student computer ratio of minimum 10: 1 is to be

achieved progressively in all schools.


ICT Policy MUST NOT dictate the structure of Computer Lab. A school may decide to go with Thin Client Computing Rather then purchasing 200 Computers for maintaining 10 computer labs.



5.1.8 ICT enabled education can be significantly enhanced and the range of classroom

practices expanded with the introduction of digital devices like still and video cameras,

music and audio devices, digital microscopes and telescopes, digital probes for investigation

of various physical parameters. These will also form a part of the infrastructure. States will

make appropriate choices and promote the use of such devices in classrooms.”


Digital Cameras Or any Other ICT device MUST NOT encode files and PATENT Encumbered format. Department of EGOV has already published set of OpenStandards to follow. http://egovstandards.gov.in/policy/policy-on-open-standards-for-e-governance/policy_doc_and_manual_used_in_printing__recd_on_Nov_12.pdf/view



5.3 SOFTWARE


5.3.1 A wide variety of software applications and tools, going well beyond an office suite is

required to meet the demands of a broad based ICT literacy and ICT enabled teaching

learning programme. Graphics and animation, desktop publishing, web designing,

databases, and programming tools have the potential of increasing the range of skills and

conceptual knowledge of the students and teachers. A judicious mix of software will be

introduced in schools to keep Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) to the minimum.




Also Policy do not dictate about what kind of Software will be considered.

Right now there are 2 kind of software present on this world.


  1. Proprietary Software {No Copyrights given to user, it may be a free of cost or highly cost software too}

  2. FOSS {Free (as in freedom) and Open Source Software} – {CopyRights are given to user so that he can use software for any purpose, learn it, modify it and share it with other users (student here) }


India is a country where the first thing you will learn is - “Knowledge will increase with Sharing”. FOSS solutions fit best to our education ideologies. So ICT policy must ENFORCE the use of FOSS (Free and Open Source Software).


Total Cost of Ownership should be criteria for National Policy. Tomorrow some Vendor , Lets says Microsoft offer free of cost training, software, and books to India in order to give the minimum possible TCO, then will Indian Education System will handover itself to Microsoft ?


Rather then looking for Total cost of ownership, select what should be best for our education. If something is available then choose it otherwise we can create our own software which will be best fit in our pedagogy. If we use FOSS or create our software then we will get ownership of Infinite time period.




6.1 Digital Content and Resources


Best example of Digital Content Collaboration is Wikipedia. It maintains version history. I would like to suggest for having a common wiki (mediawiki software) for whole India (Bharat). All States will be able to collaborate. Communication for Collaboration can be done by MailMan Software which is basically a mailing list solution.

Wikibooks is a website which help in creating Open and Free book via online Collaboratation. Many universities are creating books on Wikibooks.org website. So It is highly recommand to use existing collaboration platform.


6.2 Development of Content


HTML5 is best suitable technology for Ebooks, Animations, Lessons, exercises, interactive games, models and simulations, videos,Presentation slides, plain text materials, graphics. HTML5 is newer W3C web-standard which provide better web applications.

You can visit to the fist website of the world which is still viewable in any browser. Most of the Browser vendor are now creating HTML5 Support in their Browser. So If we create any application or any digital content in HTML5 then

  • The life of digital content become infinite. You can always view a web application, if it is made using W3C recommended (or draft) technologies.

  • Web Application become platform independent

  • It is easy to host and share web-appications.


So it is highly recommended to use HTML5 for creating Any Digital Resource



W3C has SVG (since 2000 ) and CANVAS to create graphics in webpage. SVG is vector graphics and CANVAS is pixel graphics. Presentation Slides Or Audio Video Interaction can be made using HTML5 and Sister Technologies. SVG has full capabilities of animations.


6.2.4 Teachers and students should be encouraged to develop e-content collaboratively.”


ICT policy should also tell for developing software by collaboration and prefer the software which are developed using collaboration. (ie FOSS)


7. Capacity Building


Student learn very fast then teacher. Creating Training videos and distributing directly to student/teacher will help a lot.

By- Narendra Sisodiya

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