Society to Offer Free Access to Signal-Processing Materials

IEEE Signal Processing Society is partnering with educational provider to develop an online repository

7 April 2008

The IEEE Signal Processing Society is partnering with Connexions—a leader in producing free Web-based educational materials—to develop an online repository on signal processing. This collaboration is among the first to promote the IEEE’s new public-access-friendly policy, approved last June, which encourages organizational units to find ways to support free access to their information, notes Alfred Hero, the society’s 2007 president, who is overseeing the project.

“The traditional way of delivering educational content does not serve all of the signal-processing community,” says Hero. “People who don't have the money for books or journals or don’t understand English well enough to comprehend the material are underserved. And preuniversity students suffer because there are few textbooks geared to them.”

Material developed by the partnership will be made available under a Creative Commons “attribution” license. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables authors to share their work, and even offer it for free, while still reserving some rights to it.

CALLING ALL AUTHORS A lot of new material will be needed. Experts in the field are “encouraged to develop material that can be offered as a new course, book, or report,” Hero says. This could include, for example, a short, basic paper on signal processing, a technical note on a digital signal-processing application, part of an instructor’s short course, or even a set of interactive simulations. Everything will be stored in XML files that will be linked to the society’s Web site making them accessible from different computer platforms. Hero is encouraging submissions of material in languages other than English, especially Chinese and Spanish.

There’s a great deal of interest in the society’s field of coverage, Hero says. Signal-processing techniques are found in so many devices, including computers, digital cameras, and MP3 players, that they have become critical to communications, multimedia, security, and biomedical applications. And Hero expects the new service to attract new members to his society, which today numbers nearly 15 000.

MAKING CONNECTIONS The first phase of the project involves assembling material worth sharing, particularly on four topics: speech and language processing, signal processing, image processing, and biomedical signal processing. To this end, SPS is looking for submissions of different types of educational materials at all levels, including content useful to teachers and students in the classroom, the self-paced learner at home, or the practicing engineer at the office. The material will need to be formatted into short, concise pieces of information and organized in a Connexions XML approach called modules. Automated tools are available to authors for converting LaTeX and Microsoft Word documents into this type of format.

According to Connexions, people learn by making connections between new concepts and things they already know. Connexions mimics this by breaking down information into modules that can be linked together and arranged in different ways. This allows students to see the relationships within and between topics.

Before anything goes up on the society’s Web site, however, SPS reviewers will examine it to ensure its quality through a process called lensing. These reviewers, known as lensing agents, will check for quality as measured by such criteria as accuracy, clarity, and completeness, says Hero.

SPS has received a number of submissions for lensing, including collections on digital-filter structures and quantization error analysis, speech-signal analysis, and musical signal processing. A subset of these were rolled out on society’s Web site at its major annual conference, the IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing last month in Las Vegas.

FOR MORE An author’s guide and the basic steps for creating a module are on the project’s Web site at http://www.ieeecnx.org. The society is also looking for lensing agents and translators. Information about how to submit content and what it takes to be a lensing agent are also on the site.

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