Indic language Wikipedias as Open Educational Resources


The Open Education Working Group sees supporting multilingual activities such as translation to and from languages which are not often used as one of its key future roles. Subhashish Panigrahi’s post while dwelling upon the growth of Indic Wikimedia communities critically examines Wikipedia as an educational resource.

SubhashishSubhashish Panigrahi is an educator and open source activist based in Bangalore, India. He is a long time Wikimedian and is involved in many activism and policy level debates around open education. Currently he is working at the Centre for Internet and Society’s Access To Knowledge program where he is working on designing implementation projects for catalyzing growth of Indic Wikimedia communities and content acquisition.

In the past, he has worked on building partnership with universities, language research organizations, government departments, GLAM institutions and individuals for bringing more scholarly and encyclopedic content on language, culture and history under free licenses. He is excited about experimenting on new methodologies in education, building interactive educational resources and bringing knowledge producing institutions, resourceful experts and scholars under one roof. He has been involved in various language related conferences and spoken in both policy and implementation discourses around open knowledge and open source.

****

Since the inception of four Indic language Wikipedias: Assamese, Malayalam, Odia and Punjab in 2002, the focus of Wikimedia Foundation has been diverse in many aspects.

Wikipedia’s focus oriented from Latin to non-Latin projects which was high-risk but revolutionary specifically in four of the aforementioned languages besides the other language Wikipedias that came a little later. It is quite obvious that the number of contributors to the Indic language Wikimedia projects were very few. Indic input in Unicode standard was less popular. Wikipedia struggled back then and still continues to struggle in terms of getting voluntary contributions and quality content because of these reasons.

Assamese Wikipedia

Assamese Wikipedia

In its initial phase of community building the language projects faced difficulties in teaching people about typing in their own scripts. It was a painful exercise – starting from scratch to building language input tools and tutorials, conducting outreach for mass-awareness and educating them of the importance of building content for their future generation and other such activities. Today, about 12 out of the 20 Indic language Wikipedias are active in terms of growth in the size of the contributor community and quality content. However, since the available resources are more or less limited in general and also lacking more in regional languages, there has been dependence on text books as useful educational resources. There is a complete dearth of peer reviewed journals and research documents in Indic languages. If there are some, they have not been digitized and some of the digitized resources are not available in accessible formats. With this there is a need to rethink about the potential to open Wikipedia up for more contribution from the academia and researcher communities.

Odia Wikipedia workshop, IIMC, Dhenkanal 18-19 November 2013 [Source Wikmedia]

Odia Wikipedia workshop, IIMC, Dhenkanal 18-19 November 2013 [Source Wikmedia Commons]

Conventionally educational resources are created by subject experts in a limited time frame and reviewed for factual accuracy. Wikipedia, on the contrary could be edited by anyone at any point of time and the content is ever changing. Many-a-times stub class articles get created. Not all of the articles are also of good quality. All of these result in a mixed spectrum of articles of varied quality. So, the entire Wikipedia, per se cannot be taken as OER.. It is quite challenging to get dedicated volunteers to devote their time to enhance the quality and keep the articles updated.

The ever changing nature of Wikipedia could be a potential opportunity to look at it as an educational resource that is more dynamic and upgradable in nature. Some of the subjects such as science or humanities in our education syllabi have content that is perpetually true in nature. If well written, then these kind of articles could be taken as OER as these do not need constant change. However, many other study programs including the applied disciplines are not up to date because of the conventional mode of education. There is a need to revamp the educational system and bring a more dynamic and informative system. Wikipedia, for sure will be a good platform for specific areas of education like these. However, this could be attained only if there are a group of contributors while implementing mass-scale WikipediaEducation Programs.

While working with two different batches of masters students of journalism at Indian Institute of MassCommunication at Dhenkanal in Odisha, I experienced the multitude of such fast pace of information flow that does not exist in many other disciplines. In general, people working on current issues of the world remain in a high information zone. If such talents could be tapped by bringing Wikipedia into their zone of action, then something great could be leveraged. Similarly, many researchers and people that are involved in work related documentation could be tapped when looking at specific subject areas for creating a subset of educational resource building exercise from Wikipedia.

chata

Screenshot of the Chatasabha which is a help desk on Odia Wikipedia

The drawback in the existing text book compilation process is that a fixed number of people might make it a monotonous process. Things like visual appeal and user experience, the layers of reuse, remix and reproduction that Wikipedia offers will be lacking. The process of bringing Indic language Wikipedias into the curricula also unleashes the opportunity of creating an inclusive community of experts and passively absorbing information from the existing resources including books that are currently the only educational resources. The constant discourse that a language or academic community that are subsets of a Wikipedia community, cross-pollination of ideas, information, experiments from inter-related and interdisciplinary collectives adds many additional layers of complexity to the way information get on to Wikipedia. This very complexity makes it stand out as a completely different system altogether that learns, changes the ways of approach, preserves learning and presents itself is an institution.

So far, most of the Indic languages Wikipedias are the largest reservoirs of knowledge despite the challenges of sustaining the contributing community. To take them to a new level needs the risk of allowing potential vandals of taking it to the larger audience as a contributor and taking to the knowledge seeking mass as an Open Educational Resource. As Wikipedia itself, this would be another happening journey if the challenges and mistakes are accepted. Otherwise, bringing the right balance and opening up the existing system might just take centuries and that is alarming for this society that cannot wait inside the cocoon of being completely perfect but outdated and afford to walk slower.

Reposted from the blog published on Open Education Working Group.

Posted in Open Access | Leave a comment

Call for Comments on Proposed OA Policy for DBT and DST, Government of India


open-accessThe Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science & Technology, Government of India had published its proposed Open Access Policy draft on its website and had invited comments and suggestions. See here for the policy draft. You may send your comments/suggestions latest by 25th July, 2014 to madhan@dbt.nic.in

The draft policy mandates the fund grantees to deposit the final manuscripts resulting from the research projects funded by them. It is not clear from the policy draft if the data is also required to be deposited. Though there is a separated policy on ‘Open Data’ by the DST i.e. National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy (NSDAP), there is no mention of it in the draft policy may be because the ‘Data’ referred to in the NSDAP is not of research data.

The policy draft mandates to deposit the manuscripts within a week of acceptance in their respective Institutional Repositories or with the proposed DBT-DST repository. Currently in India there are about 100 repositories as per ROAR.

The best part of the policy is that it had specified who own the copyright of the research work and the manuscript. It has also added the Copyright Addendum.

We have a similar kind of OA policies from CSIR and ICAR.

We all should congratulate the team who had prepared the policy draft and lets send the suggestions/comments for further improvement of the policy and its implementation.

Posted in Open Access

Building Momentum for National Open Access Policy for India


oaindiaDear All,
Now the time has come to start a campaign  to submit to MHRD and Min. of S&T on National Open Access Policy. For that we need to build a momentum on what is Open Access and how it benefits all of us (science & society).
In this regard, I request you all to please share your thoughts and messages on Open Access with the Ministers responsible.
Please write to Hon’ble PM Mr. Narendra Modi (@narendramodi https://www.facebook.com/narendramodi and Hon’ble Minister HRD Ms. Smriti Z. Irani @smritiirani https://www.facebook.com/Smriti.Irani.Official).
During the Open Access Week (http://www.openaccessweek.org/)  celebrations world-wide (http://www.sparc.arl.org/initiatives/openaccessweek) , we shall submit a draft policy which was already made by our Open Access advocates like Mr. Subbiah Arunachalam and others).
On behalf of Open Access India
Sridhar Gutam
Resources:-
Posted in Open Access | 3 Comments

A Global View of Open Access – Part 6


Originally posted on Tony Hey on eScience:

Part 6: A perspective on Open Access in India

I am very pleased to introduce the sixth and last article in this series of snapshots of the progress towards open access around the globe. Muthu Madhan, manager of Library and Information Services at the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Patancheru, Hyderabad (www.icrisat.org) has kindly updated his 2011 status report on: “Open Access to Scholarly Literature in India — A Status Report”. In this blog entry he reports on the recent developments on OA in India as well as summarizes its origins.

Open Access discussions began surprisingly early in India, dating back to a talk given by Stevan Harnad in September 2000. The first institutional repository was set up next year at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Unfortunately, although the report details many expressions of support for open access, there have been very…

View original 2,737 more words

Posted in Open Access

WHO commits to open access by joining Europe PubMed Central


WHO commits to open access by joining Europe PubMed Central

1 May 2014

Europe PMC logo

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that it will become a member of the open access repository Europe PubMed Central (Europe PMC), joining 25 other life sciences and biomedical research funders. The announcement is in preparation for the launch of the WHO open access policy on 1 July 2014.

Dr Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General of the WHO Health Systems and Innovation cluster, said: “WHO is delighted to join Europe PubMed Central. WHO’s open access policy is central to our commitment to universal access to information. Europe PMC will provide the platform for researchers to freely access and reuse WHO-authored and WHO-funded research, for the benefit of global health.”

Europe PMC provides free access to nearly 3 million full-text biomedical research articles, over 23m abstracts from PubMed and 4m biological and patent records. This content is discoverable via an integrated full-text and abstract search, and includes citation information and links to research databases.

Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, said: “We are delighted that WHO has joined Europe PMC and hope this paves the way for other organisations to participate in this repository. We believe that providing free, unrestricted access to research articles helps to maximise the impact of research spend, and are pleased that WHO-funded research outputs will now be added to the growing corpus of open access content.”

Europe PMC is managed and developed by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) on behalf of Europe PMC’s funders. Since 2006, Europe PMC has grown from being a simple mirror of the US National Center for Biotechnology Information’s PubMed Central database to being a standalone site, providing critical infrastructure for European funders who require open access for their research outputs.

The decision of WHO to join the expanded Europe PMC resource comes at a time when providing free access to research outputs continues to be championed at the highest levels within the UK and Europe. Europe PMC is playing a vital role in realising these ambitions.

Notes to editors

Contact

Meera Senthilingam

Senior Media Officer

Wellcome Trust
T +44 20 7611 7262
Posted in Open Access

Call for Abstracts – (SciDataCon 2014) International Conference on Data Sharing and Integration for Global Sustainability


SciDataCon 2014: International Conference on Data  Sharing and Integration for Global Sustainability 

*New Delhi, 2-5 November 2014

First Call for Abstracts and Sessions (Deadline: 30 April 2014)

There are many pressing sustainability challenges facing today’s society, from food and water security to poverty alleviation and climate change. Such challenges cannot be solved  without multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research, as well as the collection, sharing,  integration, use, and stewardship of data across scientific disciplines and domains, and from international sources. The effectiveness and credibility not only of research but also proposed solutions will be highly dependent on the availability of well-documented, quality-assessed, and timely scientific datasets. To facilitate the work of international research undertakings (including the ‘Future Earth’ research programme on global sustainability to be launched by ICSU and its partners in 2014) and to amplify the message of like-minded global data initiatives promoting data sharing and interoperability (including the Group on Earth Observations and the recently established Research Data Alliance), SciDataCon 2014 will highlight the theme of Data Sharing and Integration for Global Sustainability.

*The SciDataCon 2014 Steering Committee* now invites proposals for sessions, and abstracts for oral presentations and posters, addressing the overarching conference theme of ‘Data Sharing and Integration for Global Sustainability’ and related themes such as those indicated below.

1. Data sharing, integration, and interoperability to address research challenges in global sustainability:

2. Big Data science and technology:

3. Development and sustainability of data services:

* Data publication and citation
* Innovative approaches to data integration and interoperability
* Semantic data integration
* Interoperability standards and reference data
* Software architecture and systems
* Disciplinary and interdisciplinary case studies: environment, health, social sciences, humanities, biodiversity, climate change, materials, energy, disasters, etc.
* Data-intensive scientific discovery
* Large-scale computing software and systems
* Presentation, analytics, learning, and knowledge discovery
* Data mining and visualisation
* High-impact applications
* Data systems and infrastructure sustainability
* Data curation and stewardship, and development of trusted repositories
* Solutions and tools for research data management and data security
* Rescue of scientific data at risk
* Capacity building and education in data science
* Private sector roles and public-private partnerships

4. Scientific data for decision making and policy:

5. International collaboration on research data:

* Assessment of the impact and economic and societal value of data
* Data quality, documentation, and credibility
* Data-driven models and data products for decision- and policy-makers
* Citizen science and crowdsourcing
* Sustainability indicators and metrics
* Open government
* Development of new observational and data networks
* Interoperability and integration of existing data networks
* Data policy and access, particularly in developing countries
* Open scientific research data frameworks, including legal issues
* Capacity building and advocacy
* Lessons learned from past or current international research and data programmes
* New opportunities to support Future Earth and other international research initiatives

*Submission Instructions*

Proposals should be submitted before 00:00 UTC on 1 May 2014.

Abstracts for oral presentations and posters

Proposed abstracts must be submitted online, and uploaded files must conform to the format used in the following MS Word template at http://www.scidatacon2014.org/

** Abstract Submission [http://www.scidatacon2014.org/]*

*Proposals for sessions* Proposed sessions must also be submitted online, and envisage a panel discussion, a workshop, or a series of papers on a coherent theme. The proposal should include information about the theme, format, and speakers, in addition to including the status of speaker invitations and their commitment.

* Session Submission [http://www.scidatacon2014.org/]*

*Abstracts publication*

All accepted abstracts will be published in the Conference Proceedings, following the prescribed submission format. Selected authors, who indicated their intention to submit full papers, will be invited to publish a peer-reviewed manuscript in a special issue of the CODATA Data Science Journal.

*About *

SciDataCon 2014 is jointly organized by the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and the World Data System (WDS) interdisciplinary committees of the International Council for Science (ICSU), in collaboration with the Indian National Science Academy (INSA).

*For enquiries: secretariat@scidatacon2014.org  Conference Website: www.SciDataCon2014.org 

Posted in Open Access

Webinar on “Open Access Progress and Promise in the CGIAR Consortium” – CIARD


Re-posting on Behalf of CIARD Community

You are invited to take part in the webinar on “Open Access Progress and Promise in the CGIAR Consortium” that will take place on 10th April at 11:00am-12:00pm (CEST) 14:30pm-15:30pm in India (IST)

The presentation will provide an overview and update on the CGIAR Consortium’s progress in Open Access, including some of the challenges and opportunities of advocating for Open Access across the Consortium.

The webinar will be presented by Piers Bocock, Director of Knowledge Management and Communication at the CGIAR Consortium. He is responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the Consortium’s Knowledge Management, Communications, and IT strategies, leveraging best practices in these disciplines to help the Consortium deliver on its mandate. Johannes Keizer, team leader AIMS at the FAO of the United Nations, will moderate the session.

We are looking forward to your participation. Please register by sending an e-mail to information@ciard.net to get the details to attend.

Original post posted by CGIAR/CIARD is at http://www.ciard.net/news-and-events/news/webinar-open-access-progress-and-promise-cgiar-consortium

Posted in Open Access | 1 Comment

Vitayard: A crowdsourced Open Research publishing platform


Vitayard

Vitayard is a research-sharing platform of the ‘scavenging’ type, aiming to make the process of disseminating scientific research more open. Is is a completely crowd-sourced platform, where researchers themselves pick up research content (papers and data) from Open Access repositories. Vitayard aims to incorporate not only Open Access but also Open Research into the whole process of publication of scientific research. Over some years now, the push has been towards making the process of dissemination of research more open. Scientists feel the need to have a more efficient model and Vitayard comes in here. It crawls research that is shared through the Open Access Repositories and brings out monthly issues with the selected entries.

 

 

The research publishing industry has traditionally been controlled by 3-4 business concerns, including Elsevier, who operate for their own narrow gains and completely overlooks the concerns of the scientific community at large. Open Access repositories such as as figshare, opendepot, arxiv, etc. have come up. However, the present ‘journal-system’ prevents such ideasfrom being fully successful. Various governments, universities, scientific groups and even publishing houses have been trying to make the world of dissemination of research outputs more open. arxiv is an Open Access repository run by the Cornell University. OpenDepot is another, run by the University of Edinburgh. The Macmillan publishers have let Mark Hahnel to form Figshare. Figshare in particular looks the most promising as it lets scientists to share all of their research (not only papers, but also research data, including negative reselts). The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) is a public statement of principles relating to open access to the research literature. It arose from a conference convened in Budapest by the Open Society Institute on December 1–2, 2001 to promote open access – at the time also known as Free Online Scholarship. Time has shown us how zero control by a handful of individuals over the society and complete control of the community, as a whole, over itself brings about positive changes. Less the control by individuals or groups and more the control of the complete set of individuals, more is the positive change. The history of the printing press is a case in point. While history made a mockery of the control-freaks, it proved right the few individuals, who believed in the intellectual capacity of the masses. Intellectual Nazism should be a thing of the past and we should move away from such self-defeating practices.

As more and more researchers embrace Open practices, irrespective of the influence of any kind of authority and affiliations, a new free world of debate and discussions will truly open up.

In the words of Erasmus, a Latin scholar and a Catholic reformer, ‘To what corner of the world do they not fly, these swarms of new books? It may be that one here and one there contributes something worth knowing, but the very multitude of them is hurtful to scholarship, because it creates a glut, and even in good things, satiety is most harmful…(printers) fill the world with books, not just trifling things (such as I write, perhaps), but stupid, ignorant, slanderous, scandalous, raving, irreligious and seditious books, and the number of them is such that even the valuable publications lose their value.’

Erasmus’s fear pretty much sums up the apprehensions of today’s ‘intellectual elites’ and ‘printing powerhouses’. In todays world too, the Internet has brought about a transformation of the society. This is a tool that can be used for free dissemination of knowledge and of research. However, a few people even today tend to believe that free dissemination of research (that results in free and fair debates and discussions of the works) would bring about a ‘end of the world’ situation for science. They are of the opinion that they ought to have as much control as possible over the dissemination of research works in order to keep the flag of science flying. These handful of people have the audacity to believe that they must be the ‘chosen ones’ to boss over the whole of the scientific community. These are the people who oppose Open Science and Open Knowledge movements.

–What change do we want to make? (A description of what we want to change about the status quo, in the world, your personal vision for this area)

–Vitayard is a research-sharing platform of the ‘scavenging’ type, aiming to make the process of disseminating scientific research more open. Vitayard aims to incorporate not only Open Access but also Open Research into the whole process of publication of scientific research. The researchers themselves choosing researchoutput (alongwith their comments and observations) in a truly democratic way, eliminates the need to spend heavily on the ‘Peer Review’ process. Over some years now, the push has been towards making the process of dissemination of research more open. Scientists feel the need to have a more efficient model and Vitayard comes in here. It crawls research that is shared through the Open Access Repositories and brings out monthly issues with the selected entries.

What do we want to explore? (A description of the innovations or questions we would like to explore)

–Various governments, universities, scientific groups and even publishing houses have been trying to make the world of dissemination of research outputs more open. arxiv is an Open Access repository run by the Cornell University. OpenDepot is another, run by the University of Edinburgh. The Macmillan publishers have let Mark Hahnel to form Figshare. Figshare in particular looks the most promising as it lets scientists to share

all of their research (not only papers, but also research data, including negative reselts). The Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) is a public statement of principles relating to open access to the research literature. It arose from a conference convened in Budapest by the Open Society Institute on December 1–2, 2001 to promote open access – at the time also known as Free Online Scholarship.

–What we aim at is fast change by using these already existing and vastly successful Open Access repositories as the driving engines. As the Vitayard platform becomes successful in pioneering posititive changes towards a more Open World of knowledge, the future generations will benefit as they will have better access to knowledge than we have. Scientific progress will gain impetus as scientists and researchers will have truly free access to cutting edge research, with a greater chance to collaborate with each other and work together. Citizen Science too will get a boost as more and more people, outside the existing scientific community, have access to all this knowledge and are encouraged to participate in science (the Galaxy Zoo project is one example of how great an impact Citizen Science can have.). Citizen Science will become of greater importance as our knowledge of the universe piles up (for example, the classification of galaxies, nanoparticles, data analysis etc., will require the help of Citizen Scientists). In the next five years, the impact that Vitayard has on the way science is done will be measurable.

What are we going to do to get there? (A description of what we actually plan to do)

–We aim to have more editors ( or free users) on board, who will continuously pick up research items of their choice from the Open Access repositories mentioned earlier. This way, there will be a seamless marriage between such repositories and the new Vitayard system. Once successful, this is sure to disrupt the existing monopoly of the handful of publishing houses over research dissemination and bring about positive change. Scientists and researchers will have free access to the outputs of Vitayard and this way they will have even better chances of collaborating with their peers. Participation of the universities and research concerns will help in making the change faster. The numbers of our editors will not be limited as this would be a completely democratic and crowdsourced process. Besides this, we also plan to launch a research search engine in near future that will crawl the traditional journals and open up their content for the scientific community.

 

In ONE sentence, tell us about your project to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation.

 

A truly democratic, crowdsourced process for Open Access and Open Research.

 

Who will benefit from what you propose? What have you observed that makes you think that?

 

The research community and the public in general. It will be a great step towards realizing the dream of Open Knowledge for everyone. It is about time that the whole world has Open Access to all research output. We have been beta-testing this idea for some time.

 

What progress have you made so far?

 

We have been testing the waters for the last few months and it has been a great learning-curve for us. We have a website and a blog and the largest community of researchers in India, who support Open Access to research.

 

What would be a successful outcome for your idea or project?

 

A success would mean a fruitful marriage of the ‘journal system’ and the ‘open repository system’, resulting in cutting costs that are spent on the ‘peer review’ process severely. It would also mean that a truely democratic process of publishing, crediting, and measuring the impact of research is finally achieved. Anybody (connected to the internet) would be able to have free and complete access to all the research output that is produced around the world.

 

Who is on your team, and what are their relevant experiences or skills?

 

We have die-hard enthusiasts, who have been fighting for Open Access over the years. Researchers themselves are our stakeholders and every single one of them (real ones and not fake ones though) will be an owner.

 

Posted in Stories | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Open agricultural knowledge: On MOOCs, mobiles, innovation, outcomes, theories of change


Originally posted on Maarifa - Communications and Knowledge Management:

Last week I attended an Open Knowledge for Agricultural Development Convening organized by Michigan State University (MSU), OER Africa, and The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). The aim was to explore ways to “accelerate agricultural development through open knowledge practices”; we discussed innovations in open learning from the AgShare project, as well as mobiles, quality assurance for Open Educational Resources (OER), ‘Massively Open Online Courses’ (MOOCs), content repositories and sharing, and ways to measure impacts on open research, open content and open data …

The various presentations and other information are online

Some of my take-aways:

  • MOOCs are getting massively talked about (see this COL post or wikipedia) and we heard some experiences from MSU and the Sloan Consortium. It seems to  be a heavily academic-driven trend with MOOCs seen as massive tools to democratize access to higher education (and to create delivery efficiencies). …

View original 962 more words

Posted in Open Access

Episode 8: The open access debate


Originally posted on The Life Sciences Podcast:

In this weeks episode we are dealing with the topic of ‘open access’ in scientific publishing. While this might sound like a pretty dry theme, it actually gets right to the heart of one of the biggest issues of our time, the sharing of information in an increasingly digitalised world.

As previous students at the University of Manchester, Tia and I have had the opportunity to widely access science literature. A large research institution like Manchester pays tens of thousands of pounds every year in subscription fees so the staff and students need not worry about access to academic information.  However once you step outside of this bubble you quickly realize that this was a privileged position, with the majority of journal articles hidden behind pay-walls. This is an issue not only for members of the public, but also many smaller institutions or colleges that simply cannot afford these subscription charges. This…

View original 465 more words

Posted in Open Access