Indigenous software gets Microsoft support

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Indigenous software gets Microsoft support

Microsoft has signed on a Darwin-based software developer, part of the Indigenous community engagement program, as one of its Partners in Learning (PiL) alliance.

The software dubbed, marvin, was created by J Easterby-Wood, Creative Director of the Northern Territory Institute for Community Engagement and Development.

It was developed as a tool to spread awareness of substance abuse in the Northern Territory’s Indigenous communities.

marvin has already had enquiries about the product from around 120 countries interested in utilising this resource.

Initiated through a $5,000 professional development grant from the national training system’s e-learning strategy, the Australian Flexible Learning Framework, marvin uses multimedia animations to engage Indigenous communities on information campaigns including health, education and drug abuse, by using culturally appropriate language.

Users construct a digital cartoon on a laptop computer to discuss a topic or enact a scenario. The script is recorded using a simple microphone and the computer matches the movement of the character’s mouth with the recorded script.

The characters and language can be adapted to engage any cultural group in the world with a tailored information campaign or message.

Its creator, Easterby-Wood, said this alliance would enable marvin to be used to engage communities in developing nations around the world.

“This allows communities to create their own campaigns to suit their culture,” Easterby-Wood said. “This is a major step for communities enabling them to use information and communication technologies to take charge of their own future.”

The signing of the PiL Alliance with Microsoft follows marvin scooping four gongs at the 2007 Northern Territory Information and Communications Technology Awards (NTICTA).

Jointly conducted by the Australian Computer Society and the Australian Information Industry Association, the NTICTA recognise outstanding performance and contributions by members of the Northern Territory information and communications technology sector to the community.
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