January 2007

Belief Euro-India e-Infrastructures Conference

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The first European and Indian e-Infrastructures conference was  held at the Grand New Delhi, New Delhi, India from the 14 – 15 December 2006 attracting over 250 ICT research, industrial and academic delegates. The aim of the first of its kind event was to exchange views on how eInfrastructures are currently deployed in both Europe and in India with the objective of analysing how their increasing role is viewed in a business, educational, socio-political & scientific context. The two-day intensive discussions looked at promoting the sustained use of the EU India link (Geant2 connectivity) and its use by new user communities especially.

The conference was organised by the BELIEF (Bringing Europe's eLectronic Infrastructures to Expanding Frontiers) consortium. The BELIEF partners are from varied backgrounds and areas of expertise spanning Europe, Asia, America and Latin America. The BELIEF Consortium possesses experience in Community development, e-Infrastructure expertise, networking connections & Digital Library development, sharing complementary skills, international resources & links in the areas of e-Infrastructures.

What impact will eInfrastructures have on distance and eLearning? Case studies from European and Indian leaders explored the future of Distance and eLearning in the conference by harnessing the  power of eInfrastructures. M.M.Pant from Planet Edu Pvt (India), Prof. Krithi Ramamritham, from the Bombay IIT, and Prof. Pierluigi Ritrovato, CRMPA-Centre of Excellence for Learning and Knowledge set out to answer many such similar questions. Prof. Ritrovato presented  the European perspective to the session and helped demonstrate to the BELIEF audience how can Europe and India collaborate given their mutual strengths, skills and knowledge in eInfrastructures. The European Learning Grid Infrastructure (EU funded) project concern with use of Grid technologies for supporting the implementation and adoption of pedagogy driven, user centred learning model, enabling experiential based and contextualised learning approaches. Information on the ELeGI software architecture for formal learning, defined as a Domain Specific Grid based Service Oriented Architecture, was provided highlighting the innovative design process followed in order to guarantee the compliant with respect to the pedagogical model
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Prof.Pant's presentation  looked at the possibility of linking Indian eLearning initiatives to the European eLearning Infrastructure to deliver high quality learning and prepare youth for the emerging global economy across an Indo-European System. Notable means for this are the ERNET, the EDUSAT, the INFLIBNET on one side and the GSM and CDMA cellular phone networks on the other. With the possibility of 3G on the horizon, there is a huge opportunity for this convergence to rapidly accelerate the growth of Distance and e-learning.

Prof. Krithi Ramamritham provided the eLearning picture in India and the potential of using eInfrastructure through showcasing aAQUA, an online multilingual, multimedia Agricultural portal for disseminating information from and to the grassroots of the Indian agricultural community.

The rich, and diverse two-day programme specifically targeted Industry and Research experts and new users who wish to adopt eInfrastructures effectively within their workplace or research activity. The participants represented a rich mix of industry, government, research and academia, NGOs and European Funded Projects. The participants were mainly from India, besides European and Latin American delegates.

Some of the speakers in Europe included representatives from:CNRS-IN2P3 (France), Copenhagen Business School (Denmark), D – Grid (Germany), Eindhoven University of technology (Netherlands), Enginnering (Italy), GEIE ERCIM (France), GRNET (Greece), INFN Cagliari (Italy), Infra Technologies     (France), KTH (Sweden), Martel GmbH (United Kingdom), Poznan Supercomputing (Poland), RENATER (France), University of Salerno (Italy).

Additionally, officials of the European Commission and of the European Union delegation to India were present to exchange information with delegates on opportunities for mutual, collaborative R&D European funded programmes. Indian representations included members from: Ministry of IT, ERNET India, Avanade Inc, Sullivan University, C-DAC Noida, Centre for Science Development and Media Studies (media partner), DELNET-Developing Library Network, Development and Media Studies, IIIT Bangalore, IIT Bombay, Indian Institute of Statistics, Indian Institute of technology, Institute of Biomedical Technologies, National Informatics Centre, PlanetEDU Pvt.Ltd, Sullivan University.

The visionary plenary and stimulating parallel sessions explored the eInfrastructures. Members could select from the following topics:

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