Activities/Proposals/Combining with teaching and education

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Use GIFT format content and speech synthesis to meet the UK charitable status criterion.

Outline[edit | edit source]

The stated UK legal precedent criterion for achieving charitable status is, "If the object be the mere increase of knowledge it is not in itself a charitable object unless it is combined with teaching or education."[1] While it should be clear (and accordingly emphasized in the Chapter's tax appeal) that serving http requests for content and subject matter searches does provide a substantial, authentic, free, and high quality teaching and educational service, the legal climate surrounding the National Portrait Gallery controversy may diminish the persuasiveness of that argument. Therefore, the UK chapter should propose, and apply for seed funding of, projects to include QTI content and the use of speech synthesis.

GIFT format content will enable self-study learner-adaptive low-stakes assessments to supplement instructional content on the web, such as "free" and "open" courses offered by educational institutions which sometimes do not provide any sort of quizzes or assessment, which prevents them from allowing the most effective and time-efficient uses of that and other educational content, prevents self-assessments, and prevents the establishment of an interoperable collection of open assessment content. Because of the widespread adoption of QTI, especially in the UK, the Chapter could propose that an open educational resources directory for assessment content be established to augment existing Foundation content. This would not be an expensive project, amounting to an xml content database and perhaps a search-able directory interface (as opposed to just displaying a list.) Later, an interactive QTI interpreter could be added.

And speech synthesis, for example, could be offered using the free Festival system from the University of Edinburgh[2] or the higher quality but non-free (although a Foundation site license could presumably proxy all Foundation content) AT&T synthesizers[3] (recommend selecting "Charles" or "Audrey" for UK speech.)

Benefits[edit | edit source]

These projects would leave no doubt that the Chapter and the Foundation wish to provide authentic and complete educational services, even to the blind in third-world poverty situations where they may even be unable to obtain a screen reader speech synthesis web client. It will also lay the groundwork for the integration of interactive instructional technology with Foundation content.

Requirements[edit | edit source]

I estimate that establishing a database of QTI content could be started using ordinary wikitables, with most of the effort needing to be focused on data collection and entry, at about 10 minutes per entry. After it grows past 100 entries, a separate database would probably be more helpful. Eventually, an open source QTI interpreter should be developed, published, and allowed to run in a suitable sister project (WikiVersity? WikiSource? WikiBooks?) Based on the experiences of commercial QTI project endeavors, about 1500 person-hours should be budgeted for a full-fledged QTI database and assessment presentation interpreter.

Development of a server-side speech synthesis screen reader for Wikimedia content in the UK could be based on the free, open-source, relatively high quality Festival speech synthesis system from the University of Edinburgh.[4] It should not take more than 250 person-hours to complete the necessary MediaWiki extension code.

The Foundation may be able to supplement funding for these projects through a US NSF grant, e.g. [5].

Volunteering[edit | edit source]

The number of volunteers needed depends on the amount of Foundation and external funding which can be secured. It is vitally important that UK volunteers help with UK speech synthesis projects, as the dialect situation in the UK -- where accents are used for a form of geolocation as well as indicators of socioeconomic status -- is difficult for foreigners to understand.

If you're interested in helping out with this proposal, please sign below with *~~~

Discussion[edit | edit source]

Please share your thoughts on this proposal.

Please see also 21:34, 22 August 2009 (UTC)
This proposal is a nice idea. However, I would say it is likely to be too late to help us with our charity status application - the application is likely to be submitted in early September after the next Board meeting. It's unlikely we'll be able to start this idea that soon, given we're already working through four initiatives at the moment! Nonetheless, I do hope this idea is considered on its merits. AndrewRT 22:59, 23 August 2009 (UTC)