My work scope covers advisory and consulting in strategy and design for human learning, capacity building, talent growth and organisation development. The role of technology enhanced/enabled learning (TEL) has been an investigation and design practice, for over three decades.
This work scope can be broadly categorised into three phases. In the first, I led design developments in learning technologies that were considered pathbreaking. The second was characterised by technological innovations and pedagogical experimentation of disruptive nature. In the third phase, currently, my consulting practice is premised on an integrative approach for appropriate and sustainable solutions for learning and organisational growth. This arises from a vantage point of deep human and technological experience.
Design and development:
My work-life began in the late 1980s with designing new technology approaches for corporate training in the USA and experiencing the world’s first products in multimedia for education. The umbilical pull of returning to my homeland, to its kaleidoscopic socio-cultural canvas, to apply my new skills to a developmental context, appropriately, was always an ideal. In this rapidly evolving technological universe, I returned to India with an opportunity to work on its first multimedia programme – interactive videodiscs for rural water and land management training. I was excited to lead the design that applied cutting edge technology, to pioneer new learning of rural India. This programme, collaboratively executed through the USAID, the Indian Ministry of Water Resources and Education Development Center, Boston, laid the foundations for multimedia development in India.
The setting was rural India in 1990, the extreme temperatures of Rajasthan and Haryana, collaborating with a myriad colleagues – farmers, water user associations, professors, creative media staff, and foreign bosses. We strove towards creating breakthrough technological simulations of natural phenomena, that were too complex to visualise and impossible to experience in real time and space. The idea was to enhance classroom training for water and land management engineers with visualisation and self-paced interactive technology. One that would enable adult learners to visualise, question, explore, observe, reflect, analyse and solve, at their own pace. It was an untried challenge then and an indelible memory today.
Functionally, there were days when sending a fax meant a whole day dialling from the local post office in Udaipur, using the only existing fax machine in town. Meanwhile, in stark contrast, we were designing, shooting and programming a cutting edge programme with animated simulations, data, video, photographs and textual resources. Our final design was a technology enabled, exploratory, game like approach to real world problem solving – a pathbreaking development.
Since then, for over three decades, I have worked to innovate strategy, research and design for education and training, across media, subjects and sectors.
I was pulled in to start up NIIT Ltd’s ‘Centre of Competence in Multimedia’ within R&D in the late 1990s. My ‘Design Lab’, created among the first concepts, content, products and platforms for educational technology for varied audiences – adults, children, rural, urban, social & industry. This included the very first interactive cd roms for children’s education, web based learning for corporates, learning management systems, knowledge management systems, corporate virtual universities and virtual classrooms.
My work on the globally acclaimed Hole-In-The-Wall project (launched 1999) led to the research, design and development of its first large scale rural implementation in Sindhudurg, Maharashtra (stories from ‘Hole In The Wall’). I developed the evaluation paradigm (GUI Icon Association Inventory) that became fundamental to its pan-India research proofs. The research was internationally peer reviewed, published and cited. International collaborations included the distinguished Kaleidoscope Europe (Network of Excellence of European research teams TEL under Prof. Nicolas Balacheff), Laboratory Leibniz CNRS France, The French Embassy in India, French artist and pedagogue Pascal Monteil and the University of Newcastle, U.K. (Prof. James Tooley).
Global recognition also came from the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France. A digital art project I conceived for rural children across the length and breadth of India, was supported by The French Embassy in India, and conducted in collaboration with pedagogue and eminent international artist Pascal Monteil. We used scaffolded observation, reflection and learning-by-doing as pedagogical methods in a technological universe, for digital art education. The project was honoured to be shown for many months at the international exhibition ‘D.Day Le Design Aujourd’hui – 2005’ at the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Presently, as Director and Principal Consultant with Aquarians Management Consultancy Pvt Ltd., clients include international agencies, bi-lateral agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs) and policy think tanks. (technology & learning in Panchayat Governance, India)
My consulting and advisory predicates an integrative approach for appropriate and sustainable solutions for learning and organisational growth. The focus is on the learner and the organisation.
We hold that for change to be real, it must come from within. Learning environments need to evolve to integrate across subject areas, physical and digital spaces, action and reflection, self and the organisation, teaching, learning and being.
“The first principle of true teaching is that nothing can be taught…The second principle is that the mind has to be consulted in its own growth….The third principle of education is to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be” — Sri Aurobindo
“Without an integrated understanding of life, our individual and collective problems will only deepen and extend. The purpose of education is not to produce mere scholars, technicians, and job hunters, but integrated men and women who are free of fear; for only between such human beings can there be enduring peace.” —Jiddu Krishnamurti
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The Digital Art Project exhibited for 3 months at the prestigious design exhibition – ‘D Day Design Aujourd’hui’ – The Centre Pompidou , Paris, France.
WORKSHOPS, CONFERENCES, LECTURES
- World Bank and the Government of Karnataka
- United Nations Development Programme, India & Asia-Pacific.
- United Nations Development Programme, Timor Leste
- Center for Policy Research, India
- Swiss Agency for International Development, India
- Kudumbashree Mission, Kerala, India
- Sri Aurobindo Society, India
- International Kaleidoscope Symposium, Europe
- Intel “Innovation in Education”, South Africa
- Institution of Engineers India
- University Joseph Fourier, France
- IT for Change, India
- Kutch Abhiyaan, India
- T4E (Technology for Education) IIT-Powai, India
- International Usability Professionals Association, India
- The French Embassy in India
- Rotary International, India
- Seagull Publishers, India
- ACM SIGCHI, India
- Comet Media Foundation, India
- Education Development Center, USA
- Industrial Design Center IIT, India
- Underscore Records (Shubha Mudgal, Aneesh Pradhan), India
- NIIT University, India
- Symbiosis Center of Information Technology, India
- PUKAR Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research, India
- ……and others.
- ‘Towards Holistic Panchayat Raj’, Twentieth Anniversary Report of the Expert Committee on Leveraging Panchayats For Efficient Delivery of Public Goods and Services. Government of India Report 2014.
- ‘Imagining India’ by Nandan Nilekani
- ‘The Beautiful Tree’ by James Tooley
- Annual Report of the French Embassy in India (2004-2005)
- ‘Impressions’ Journal of the Alliance Francaise de Mumbai
- ….and academic citations
BBC, Discovery Channel, Catalogue of the Centre Pompidou, France, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, DNA, The Indian Express, The Statesman, The Telegraph, Sakaal… and others.