Introduction

This project has been funded by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, for the past five years. It started as a documentation project for open source software. It has now become a massive training method, training about 850,000 people in the past four years. We give below some more reasons for starting this project. The methodology of our project, etc. are explained in detail in later sections.

A spoken tutorial is a an audio-video tutorial that explains an activity performed on the computer. An expert explains the working of a software, by demonstrating it on the screen, along with a running commentary. A 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. We have chosen a typical spoken tutorial to be of 10 minute duration. Although only a small topic can be covered in ten minutes, by stringing together many tutorials, one can come up with study plans that are capable of teaching advanced topics as well.

Spoken tutorial 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 to explain a software or a computer based activity. Creating a document in any other way is inefficient. A ten minute video, for example, can have about 100 screen transitions. Imagine the work involved in taking screen shots and using them to create a text document, say a pdf file. The size of the video created is of the order of 1MB per minute, for a 800x600 screen size in normal resolution. This allows about ten hours of instruction to be packed in a CD. It also allows transmission through low bandwidth networks.

Synopsis

Objective

The objective of this project is to spread IT literacy and to bridge the digital divide. The main reason to promote Information Technology (IT) literacy is to improve the employment potential of students at all levels. Developing countries, such as India, have been struggling to provide employment to their youth. IT is also an important vehicle for growth and to improve the quality of life in general. Having a large number of people trained in IT will also help implement several affordable, but useful, IT solutions. IT is also a sector that requires mainly human capital, which is abundantly available in most developing countries. The following sub-objectives are to be met to achieve the goal: (1) There is a shortage of expert trainers and hence the instructional methodology should be suitable for self learning. Effective pedagogical methods should be chosen or devised to this end. (2) The method is available to students who are not fluent in English. At the same time, employment opportunities should not be missed out by completely shutting out English. (3) Available computer resources should be effectively used. The same resources should be able to accommodate a large number of students. (4) The instructional material should be easily available, even to those who do not have good Internet access.

Approach

For every Spoken Tutorial, we create a script before recording it. To make it suitable for self learning, we subject the script through novice check. After recording, we conduct pilots for beginners and ensure that the tutorial is suitable for self learning.

We translate the spoken part of our tutorials into all official languages of India. After recording a tutorial in English, we time each sentence, a process required for translation and dubbing. We translate each sentence into the target language, in the available time. We have found this possible if we enforce simple and short sentences and slow narration in English. Approximate translation is also acceptable, as the narration is an additional aid to the screencast. We speak the translated sentences in one go and then cut and slide each sentence to the correct position in the time line. We do not edit the video portion at all. We stitch the original video with the translated audio. This method allows us to dub a tutorial in 5% of the effort required to create the original. We dub spoken tutorials into all 22 languages recognised by the constitution of India.

We have developed method of pedagogy called Side-by-Side. In this method, the learner opens our tutorial on one side of the screen and the target software in the other side of the software. As we restrict to only open source software systems, this method always works. One has to listen to the commands one by one from the tutorial and try them out in the software. As Spoken Tutorials are created for self learning, this always works. Our training is through active learning.

Although Spoken Tutorials are available for free access from our portal, we conduct organised workshops through colleges and schools. A volunteer can keep all the computers in full readiness, using which, the students can self learn. During the workshop, which lasts only two hours, students learn how to use Spoken Tutorials effectively. They can copy Spoken Tutorials and complete their learning at leisure.

Although colleges in India generally have access to Internet, most of them are unable to provide it in all their computers. To address this, we have come up with an offline image creation application. A workshop organiser can choose the topics on which they want to conduct the workshop and the spoken languages to be used. They can create a zip file, download it and copy it to all their computers. On unzipping this file, the student will have access to our environment, but from their local file system. Thus, a college needs only one Internet connection - a slow connection will do.

We conduct online tests and give certificates to those who pass. As this project is funded by the Government, we provide all of the above services free of cost to students and faculty.

Engagament

About 5,000 colleges have registered with us to conduct Spoken Tutorial based workshops. Out of this, about 2,000 colleges active. We have trained close to 850,000 students in the past four years, see http://spoken-tutorial.org/statistics/training/. We have been active in all the about 30 states of India. We have an active presence in about half the about 600 districts of India.

As our methodology is suitable for self learning, anyone who has undergone training through one of our workshops can conduct one. Moreover, one who has conducted a workshop (say Java), can conduct our workshop on any other topic (C or Blender of LaTeX). As a result, students, suport staff, college professionals and administrators have all conducted our workshops. As no financial decision has to be made, the college authorities have no difficulties in approving the use of our programmes.

To make our method of training accepted on a more permanent basis, we are now in the process of mapping our tutorials to the existing curriculum and learning from our tutorials during the lab hours. This approach allows, for example, students to practise Java Spoken Tutorials during their Java Lab Course hours. This approach removes the dependency on a single individual and instead gets an institutional guarantee for permanence.

There are many reasons why our method has been widely accepted: (1) As our tutorials are suitable for self-learning, and because we promote self learning, students like our method. (2) Availability of the spoken part in local languages, without a compromise on employment potential makes our method attractive. (3) As our tutorials are offered free of cost and the colleges need not purchase any software, the decision making step is removed. (4) The offline learning capability makes it attractive to most, as the lack of adequate bandwidth is a universal problem in India.

Impact

The project received a Google MOOCs Award for outstanding contribution in the Offline methodology category.

The Tamil Nadu Commissioner of Technical Education made it mandatory for all the 450 polytechnic college students to practise using Spoken Tutorials during all their IT lab hours. They mapped the courses of IT, computer science and electronics students with spoken tutorials. This is an evidence of the high quality of our methodology.

At the time of writing this report, 338 colleges have included Spoken Tutorials in their lab curriculum and also given detailed Time Tables.

Twenty-five thousand people who responded to our survey overwhelmingly approve of our method. Details are in the attached paper.

We have received testimonials from several beneficiaries of our method. This is what a student who got a coveted job says about project: I am very glad to inform you that I got an opportunity to speak about
my experience with IIT Bombay for working on a project (Spoken
Tutorials). This exposure seemed to be one of the reason for getting
selected in TCS, which various engineers and other graduates would
love to. The amazing certificates and having leadership qualities for
organizing several workshops during my college days brought in me the
confidence to undertake any task. I have got into TCS as a Linux
developer. The first time I learned about Linux is when I conducted as
well as undertook a test on Linux which was organized by IIT Bombay.

This is what another student, who is now doing his Master's degree in the US, wrote in an email to his teacher:
I am drafting this letter because I really hated the way you taught
me during my undergraduate. Every other teacher was easy to satisfy,
but you as project coordinator would compel us to do projects on our
own. You did make us use LaTeX instead of word which I felt was a
complete waste of time. I assumed that you made do all this just to
keep us busy and didn't like us enjoying our final year of
college. You gave us some spoken tutorials of IITB on python, LaTeX
and Linux software. You also made sure that we learnt that and
implemented our project using open source software ... I felt
everything you made us learn was such a waste of time..

Now I feel you are the only person who really worked with the motive
of teaching us something really useful. Here I have to do my
projects using Ruby, Python, Java and all my projects are documented
only using LaTeX. All my papers are written using LaTeX. Now I
really feel the usefulness and importance of using LaTeX. As I had
no knowledge about Python I just tried the tutorial of IITB which
you gave me. I have to tell you the clarity and detail they explain
each topic. We cannot deny that the Internet has many tutorials. But
I felt this was the best. I shared this tutorial with my other
project members. They just loved it. In the course of time you
wouldn't believe the whole class is using this tutorial. I am really
feeling proud to be an Indian and your student. I really understood
what open source means. Like we use windows people here use Linux
and Mac. Also, my university is specialized in security track so
also got to learn about KALI and Backtrack which is completely based
on Linux.

I am also doing internship in Fiducial Inc. I was shocked that the
most of the companies work is done in open source. They expect me to
know languages like python, java and also know to use open source
operating system. My learning curve is very steep. I feel it is very
difficult. If I had paid attention to your words and learnt
these during my undergraduate days I would have excelled by now.

The project received a Google MOOCs Award for Outstanding Contribution in the Offline Methodology category.

Next Steps

The Tamil Nadu Commissioner of Technical Education made it mandatory for all the 450 polytechnic college students to practise using Spoken Tutorials during all their IT lab hours. They mapped the courses of IT, computer science and electronics students with spoken tutorials. This is an evidence of the high quality of our methodology.

At the time of writing this report, 338 colleges have included Spoken Tutorials in their lab curriculum and also given detailed Time Tables.

Twenty-five thousand people who responded to our survey overwhelmingly approve of our method. Details are in the attached paper.

We have received testimonials from several beneficiaries of our method. This is what a student, who is now doing his Master's degree in the US, wrote in an email to his teacher:

"I am drafting this letter because I really hated the way you taught me during my undergraduate. Every other teacher was easy to satisfy,
but you as project coordinator would compel us to do projects on our own. You did make us use LaTeX instead of Word which I felt was a complete waste of time. I assumed that you made do all this just to keep us busy and didn't like us enjoying our final year of
college. You gave us some spoken tutorials of IITB on python, LaTeX and Linux software. You also made sure that we learnt that and
implemented our project using open source software. I felt everything you made us learn was such a waste of time.

Now I feel you are the only person who really worked with the motive of teaching us something really useful. Here I have to do my
projects using Ruby, Python, Java and all my projects are documented only using LaTeX. All my papers are written using LaTeX. Now I
really feel the usefulness and importance of using LaTeX. As I had no knowledge about Python I just tried the tutorial of IITB which
you gave me. I have to tell you the clarity and detail they explain each topic. We cannot deny that the Internet has many tutorials. But
I felt this was the best. I shared this tutorial with my other project members. They just loved it. In the course of time you
wouldn't believe the whole class is using this tutorial. I am really feeling proud to be an Indian and your student. I really understood
what open source means. Like we use windows people here use Linux and Mac. Also, my university is specialized in security track so also got to learn about KALI and Backtrack which is completely based on Linux.

I am also doing an internship with Fiducial Inc. I was shocked that most of the companies work is done in open source. They expect me to know languages like python, java and also to know how to use open source operating system. My learning curve is very steep. I feel it is very difficult. If I had paid attention to your words and learnt these during my undergraduate days I would have excelled by now."

Other Information

PDF - Click to download
PDF - Click to download
PDF - Click to download
Project Website - The home page of our project
Project Website - C tutorials in English
Project Website - A LibreOffice tutorial dubbed in Hindi
Project Website - Spanish: our method is universal
Project Website - Our training process
Project Website - Offline image creation application
Project Website - Our training statistics
Project Website - What people say about our methodology
Project Website - Media articles on Spoken Tutorials
Project Website - Official letters by colleges and universities announcing the use of Spoken Tutorials
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