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The UNESCO-Bilko project

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Introduction to the Bilko Project

The UNESCO Bilko project was initiated in 1987 under UNESCO's then Marine Sciences Training and Education Programme (TREDMAR) to develop training capability in coastal and marine remote sensing through a series of computer-based learning (CBL) modules. Using a specially commissioned educational image-processing software package (Bilko) which was designed to operate on personal computers, the project has provided seven modules of computer-based lessons to over 500 marine science laboratories and educational establishments and over 600 individual users in over 70 countries around the world. A useful summary of the modules ( UNESCO Bilko Resource Book 4.5 Mbytes, Word 97) has been compiled by Dr R. Sudarshana and colleagues of the Marine Science Division of the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing.

Each module is a self-contained package of:

the image processing software (Bilko),
an introductory tutorial on how to use the software,
lessons on the applications of remote sensing to oceanography and coastal management,
satellite and airborne remotely sensed images to accompany the lessons.

The original objective of the project was to facilitate "hands-on" training in coastal and marine remote sensing for those traditionally excluded from such training by the:

high cost of commercial image-processing software,
need for expensive computer equipment to run that software,
difficulty of acquiring remotely sensed images for teaching purposes,
long learning-curves required to master complex commercial software, and
need to teach large numbers of students at the same time.

Some of these constraints have eased significantly since 1987 but collectively they still prevent access to such training in much of the world. The worldwide success of the Bilko project (which surprised its originators) bore witness to the widespread demand for the training in countries both with limited and advanced remote sensing capabilities.

As the project progressed, a global network of users developed with many of these users themselves becoming authors of lessons in subsequent modules, such that lessons have now been published from scientists in over 15 countries around the world.

The Bilko software

Bilko v. 2.0 is a 16-bit program which runs under Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000 and Windows XP. This version of the software was used in Module 7. A new 32-bit version of the software, Bilko v. 3.0, which has enhanced functionality is currently undergoing beta-testing in various countries.

Last updated 2003