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M Sc (CS-FOSS) Online Program

The Background to the M.Sc.(CS-FOSS) Program

The manner in which the science of computing is being utilized by the Software and IT industry has been seeing dramatic changes in recent years . The Net, the Web , Mobility etc are the very life breath of the new information industry, and the manner in which new technologies, products and applications are being developed and deployed depend heavily on the processes of collaboration, distributed team work, sharing, reuse, openness, scalability, community-driven processes, user-feedback, etc.

The Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) Movement that has altered the field of computing in many fundamental ways is a key driver of these changes being witnessed in today’s information industry, as embodied in Web 2.0, Mobile Computing, Cloud Computing, Embedded/ Real-time Computing, Geo-spatial Computing ,etc. In addition to contributing Products, Technologies and Solutions that are at the very cutting edge of today’s information industry, FOSS has also impacted strongly on the approaches, processes and methods of developing and delivering SW/IT products and services of ever increasing sophistication and affordability.

Unfortunately, this ongoing revolution in the world of practical computing does not find much reflection in the curricula, syllabi, methods and processes of Computer and IT Education in our country -- one of the eventual consequences of this being that our SW/IT graduates are far from being ‘industry-ready’. If our graduates have to be good enough for today’s (and tomorrow’s) world of computing, and if we need to do so in numbers running into millions, then it would need a dramatic shift in the paradigms, approaches, processes, techniques and tools of teaching-learning in the filed of Software and IT. And given the critical importance of the SW/IT domain in the nation’s Industry and Economy, India has to pioneer this shift with bold experimentation and innovation in the field of computer science education so that we as a nation can build on the strengths we have acquired in this field globally.

Launching of the two-year Online M.Sc. (Computer Science – Free/Open Source Software) Program by Anna University Chennai under its Distance Education Department represents one such pioneering step. Motivation and support for this initiative have also come from the NRCFOSS Project funded by the Dept. of Inf. Tech, Ministry of Communication and Inf. Technologies, Govt. of India, and coordinated by C-DAC Chennai, of which Anna University/AU-KBC Research Centre has been a participating institution since its inception.

The objectives of the M.Sc.(CS-FOSS) Program.

Within the broad context mentioned above, this Online Program has goals and objectives that include the following:

  • Evolve an affordable mode of imparting quality SW/IT Education at the university level that can scale with the future needs of the industry and society in a cost effective manner.

  • Train the students formally in the philosophy, approaches, methods, technologies, tools and solutions of FOSS so that they can bring in innovation and creativity into the industry, leading to quality IT products and solutions that are affordable to the masses. The program would help address the needs of the Industry and Government for manpower well trained in FOSS.

  • Impart SW/IT knowledge and skills to large numbers of students with out sacrificing quality by the use of effective online, web-based and interactive processes and techniques that are already in use world wide.

  • Impart a high level of ‘industry readiness’ to the students by basing all teaching and learning on the use of proven real world products, technologies, processes and standards from the FOSS domain – the learning environment that the students see will not be fundamentally different from the industry environment as far as the SW packages and tools used are concerned.

  • Realise and deploy all parts of the Online Program (content creation, content delivery, inter-activeness, evaluation etc) using available FOSS products and solutions so as to make the program itself a powerful demonstration of the maturity of today’s FOSS technologies and products.

  • Provide an opportunity to non-SW/IT graduates, including working people from all over the country, to acquire a SW/IT degree from a reputed university in a flexible manner. SW/IT industry could also use this program to equip their engineers with specialized FOSS skills without having to send them away to the class rooms.

Despite the strong emphasis on FOSS, it is expected that the graduates of this program would fit into the broad needs of the Indian SW/IT market like the BE s , B. Tech s, MCA s etc. coming out of the regular programs.