Academics and researchers discuss its applications

Imagine a world where the software you use on your computer is free, where you can explore and expand its utility, and through a series of simple steps, install additions to that software developed by like-minded people all over the world.

The promise of a world where knowledge can be shared without restrictions, and the manifold applications of free software in research were discussed at the day-long Regional Convention for Academicians and Researchers organised by the Free Software Foundation, Tamil Nadu in Chennai recently.

The event was aimed at promoting awareness about the relevance of free software while developing tools and software suited to Indian contexts and necessities.

Speaking at the conference, J. Pratap Reddy, Director, Board of Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, emphasised the need for creating an eco-system where free software would percolate to every layer of the education system. “We need more institutional efforts to prepare teachers to embrace free software,” he said.

Some of the other topics discussed were how open models and free software tools could be used in engineering education. A circuit simulation and an interactive mapping system that enables browsers to study the distribution of natural resources were demonstrated to prove how students and academics could make use of free software.

“Encouragement will contribute”

Kiran Chandra, general secretary, Free Software Movement of India, said that though the use of free software has been attracting critical mass support for some time now, encouragement from academia would contribute to its sustenance.

The speakers, who included professors and resource persons from the IITs and other private engineering colleges in the country, emphasised the need to interact more to facilitate sharing of resources.

“Curriculum and teaching tools should be seen as means that can be tweaked to suit our purposes, rather than an end in itself,” said K.S. Rajan, Associate Professor, IIIT Hyderabad.

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