[kde-edu]: Thoughts on KDE-Edu and less resourced languages

Sabine Emmy Eller s.eller at voxhumanitatis.org
Wed Nov 25 14:46:55 CET 2009

Sorry, this became quite long, but includes many points and tries to give a
real picture of what we deal with.


Anne-Marie some days ago asked me about my/our thoughts on KDE-Edu - there
are so many that it is difficult to write all down and we are adding things
step by step in a section of our home page:

(see the various subpages)

What is most relevant when we target less resourced languages is that there
is no need to do all at once - it is simply impossible to do all.

My "story" around a less resourced language:
I myself have been working for years on Neapolitan. There is only a handful
of people able to write and less when it comes to localize - that is: for a
long time I was the only one being able to deal with software localization.
Not being native I needed someone to proof read. As long as whatever I wrote
was a normal article, a Wikipedia article, a translation of a fairy tale
etc. all was fine and I got things proofread. Once I started to do
loaclisation: there was no way. Of course I can do certain parts here and
there to localize, but alone I could never make it - we need others to step

This was the point where I then had to decide what to do, where to invest my
time in such a way that all get most out of it. This lead to me taking the
decision to care about contents creation only, that is: dictionaries,
language exercises, question/answer games etc. But also here we have limits,
sometimes really huge ones.

People who help us with their language often just can edit a table. Mostly
they use whatever is installed on the computer they have - and to 90% this
is Microsoft Excel. Google documents help a lot when people can work online,
but 80% of them is not. 70% does not even have a computer. Many of these 70%
will have or already do have a mobile phone.

We started to work on tables to create contents for Parley on 13th of
September 2009. Parley is a great tool, but not really for children and so
we decided to also go for KHangMan. Many more such "learning games" are
needed and I really put a lot of hope in Gluon. What I want to reach is that
we can use the same data for various educational games in order to minimize
investment in translations and maximize results for users.

Now we have the data and I can convert from csv to kvtml1 starting from
English thanks to a python script by Bernhard. In a first moment, needing a
converter, I was thinking about starting to program myself again and I was
told that GNU SmallTalk would be good to use (it should be also the future
for mobile techonolgy) but what I realized is: if I program I will do only
that (btw. I like programming), but it would require me some time to learn.
Gwenael gave me a script that was helpful to understand more about GNU
SmallTalk - thank you! On the other hand I am a communication person,
speaking and writing a few languages, reading and understanding some more.

To help less resourced languages on one hand and people to study any
language on the other: we need contents. Even the best software in the world
is useless if we don't have anything to put in there.

Therefore my decision: I really have to concentrate only on contents
creation and community work, that is caring about people. The last part is
the most difficult one: as long as I deal with people who have been working
in open source and open contents for years we all know that there are
moments when you simply cannot follow up and that you will come back to them
as soon as possible. This is not the case with most of the people who
help/helped us: they are not used to this "do things when you feel like it"
way and I really should write them one by one which is impossible to
achieve. This means: over time many contacts are lost.

Priorities where we really do need help from programmers:
We need to get a conversion tool done. After some talks to various people a
meta converter would be great - I am trying to write down specifications,
but will need input from other people as well. This meta converter is not
possible immediately, I know, but keep it in mind when I tell you what is
most urgently needed:

1) the conversion from csv to .kvtml (version 1) for Parley works when the
source language is complete, but I also need it to work when the source
language is not complete - that is lines with empty cells in the source
language column should be skipped
2) it should be possible to extract data by "tag" - let's say: all animals,
all vegetables, all that has whatever tag - these tags may be in different
columns according to what is needed (for the beginning I will only address 1
column at a time)
3) conversion from csv to kvtml for KHangMan (any column combination for
languages or question/answer skipping lines with empty fields + export
depending on "tag-column".
4) conversion that includes for example links to pictures for Parley (I
never used this feature - but since we have who wants to work on it, it
would be great if we could reach the use of these pictures for all present

Re. the above: the "selective extraction of data" is also needed for people
like Andreas who would like to add pictures to the animals or others who
just want to work on certain data sets - so at least the work is done only
once and others then can add to it.

I have at least two people wanting to help with the conversion (bit by bit):
Bernhard and Stephan - maybe also Gwenael? Well: I would like to get you in
touch in order to avoid double work. I don't have a clue if you can work
together, but at least it would be good to talk first because I know that
all of you already have plenty of work that needs doing.

So here we are, in front of a huge mountain called taking education to
people in their very own mother tongue and it's a mountain we all can and
will climb :-)

Any comments? Well: I would be happy to have them. Just leave a note or
write me a mail.

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