Avallain Basic Skills
What it is
Avallain Basic Skills is a set of tools by Avallain that provides a solution for basic skills (literacy, numeracy, English, work skills) supported by e-learning for governments and NGO worldwide. Software and services will be available commercially and for free depending on the individual case and requirements. Open Source versions of the software will be made available for free as soon as practically possible, parts right away, and the maintenance (together with the community) of the Open Source version is one of the main objectives of Avallain Basic Skills. The goal is to achieve per-learner costs lower than 10$ per year.
What the system offers
The Avallain Basic Skills platform consists of a highly customized LCMS that guides learners in an autonomous or blended learning setting through an adaptive curriculum reaching from basic literacy to work skills. The integrated Avallain Author allows for the creation or adaptation of material by local basic skills experts without technical training. The integrated tutoring system enables tutors to guide and support the learners in individual or course settings, so classic training institutions can simply enhance their programs by assigning course teachers as tutors in the system. The seamless support through a high quality text to speech system and an image database really enables the use by learners that lack even basic literacy skills.
Where it comes from
Avallain has developed a very successful literacy learning system for the German Government. 15000 learners, both from existing institutional courses and anonymous from the general Internet, have followed the curriculum, with more than 50% staying on for months and achieving higher levels in the 6-level system. The system has been available over the Internet as well as in walled off Intranet versions, e.g. for the prison system. Avallain has also developed the Macmillan English Campus, a steadily expanding institutional e-learning system for English Language Training, with more than 100000 regular learners worldwide. The know-how and experience from these milestone projects are invested into Avallain Basic Skills.
The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning has expressed interest in advising the project. John Traxler, an erstwhile literacy trainer and now Reader in mobile learning at the AIDTECH department at the University of Wolverhampton is interested in providing the open source community support and generally consulting the project on ethics, efficiency, and evaluation aspects. TESHKEEL COMICS supports the project with IP contributions (cartoons and characters).
The AVALLAIN BASIC SKILLS software will be adapted and made available for use on OLPC machines over the Internet and Intranet. Encapsulated versions for the School Servers are foreseen. At outset, Adobe Flash will be required on the client machines, the plan is to replace this mid-term unless the licensing nature of Flash changes.
How to participate
At outset, interested organisations apply for participation (write to ) and outline their needs and possible contributions. Depending on the localisation needs and other factors Avallain Basic Skills will then offer an appropriate solution and process to achieve the goals. The solution can be free or very inexpensive, depending on the current capacities and basic funding. In no case will there be any hidden licensing costs or other continuing obligations for the participants. Once the Open Source community versions are available these are made available for free download and use. Users can then decide to purchase support and services or rely on the community for free support.
Similar to wikipedia, there should be a universal Basic Skills learning platform available on the Internet, localised and adapted culturally by the local communities and institutions. The target yearly cost per end user should not exceed 10$/year for infrastructure and upkeep and should normally be financed by governments or NGO or the funding for Avallain Basic Skills or other offspring using the future community versions. This is a complex challenge because an effective Basic Skills e-learning systems needs to support complexities like linguistic analysis, tutor-learner relationship, adaptable curricula, high quality text to speech, voice communication and many more to be effective for the special target audience.
Avallain is a private company and with Avallain Basic Skills has decided to follow a model best compared to Red Hat or mySQL. There is a transition period and an effort required to make our know-how and software assets Open Source in a sensible manner. The founders of Avallain believe that a complete and truly effective set of Basic Skills software should be freely available and owned by nobody and hope to contribute significantly to this goal through Avallain Basic Skills.