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Open source initiatives on design
e-kalpa Design Team

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This project on 'Creating Digital-learning Environment for Design' also called 'e-kalpa' is sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resources, Government of India as part of the National Mission in Education through Information and Communication Technology.

Project Title:
Creating Digital Learning Environment for Design in India (‘e-kalpa’)

Key Themes:
1. Digital online content for learning Design with distance e-Learning programs on Design
2. Social networking for Higher Learning with collaborative Learning Space for Design
for Synchronous and Asynchronous Interaction and
3. Digital Design Resource Database including the craft sector

This project presents three initiatives – providing digital online content for design, a social networking environment for design and higher learning and creating a digital resource database on design.
The proposal would focus on knowledge accumulation, storing and dissemination and education in four sectors - University, Industry, Government and the Informal sector.

The overall objective is the creation and development of new learning environments related to design that will provide greater access and enhancement to acquisition of critical knowledge, skills, and abilities for economic and social development in our country.

These initiatives will be based on the use of information and communications technology.

This initiative 'e-kalpa' will be collaboratively developed by the three institutions - IDC at IIT Bombay, NID at Bangalore and DOD at IIT Guwahati along with the support of other design related institutions’ and organizations.

Role of Design:
• Design in the context of a country like India can play a very significant role in finding appropriate solutions to its problems.
• Design by its own nature is creative, collaborative, multi-disciplinary and is inclusive of many other fields.
• Design process involves knowledge gathering, analysis, discovery, and conceptualisation resulting in a problem solving activity and this in turn leads to experiential learning.
• Design can bring sensitivity and awareness to Indian ‘Arts, Crafts, Culture and Environment’
• Design can help students develop values, attitudes, sensorial skills and critical thinking and make the students realize their creative and innovative potentials.
• Design can have a positive social impact on the whole society, if it can reach the masses and the design knowledge acquired is used to enhance their quality of life and also help many of them to become entrepreneurs.
• Design and Innovation can make a big difference to the expected growth of creative needs in our country and this in turn can bring in the competitive edge in the local and world market.
• Being able to have access to knowledge and information about design will be most beneficial to those seeking inputs in this field - that includes both the formal and the informal sector.

At present, in education of design, there are around 20-25 design institutes and over 100 commercial art colleges in India. This number is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years. It is probable that India will have over 300 design colleges by 2015 and over 1000 by 2020.

There are physical and financial constraints on the capacity increase in these institutions by way of face-to-face traditional education. This proposal represents a viable community of institutions that is motivated to create innovative learning environments that can deal with the kind of growth in the design sector in the coming years. This initiative is designed to nurture, grow and develop this community.

The outcome of this project should also expose the non-formal sector of the society about quality consciousness through the fundamental understanding of design.

Key Theme1 - Digital online content for learning Design with distance e-Learning programs on Design:
The main activities:
a. Create online content for design learning
– documentation of lectures, design exercises, design explorations, problem solving activities, design process, and design projects.
b. Create systems for online learning through distance education
- the distance learning and dissemination of knowledge could be thorough the internet with access to many media formats – video, documents, etc.
- the dissemination could also be through synchronous live transmission of lectures, case studies and briefings through satellite tv transmission mode.

Key Theme2 - Social networking for Higher Learning with collaborative Learning Space for Design for Synchronous and Asynchronous Interaction
The main activities:
a. Create a social networking platform for design learning
- this environment should have the potentials to get students interested in creating and building an environment for exchange of information with respect to design learning (maybe on the lines of facebook - to give as an example)
b. Create a collaborative space for both synchronous and as well as asynchronous design learning
- the same platform could be used to create problem solving topics with both the teacher to students, students to students and teachers to other teachers being able to interact collaboratively.

The benefits of collaborative learning are widely known but rarely practised. Ted Panitz (1997) has listed 67 distinct benefits - academic, social, and psychological - that can be expected from the use of group work. These include such factors as building self-esteem, reducing anxiety, encouraging understanding of diversity, fostering relationships, and stimulating critical thinking.

The Internet seems to provide an ideal environment for new forms of collaborative learning to be explored. Students are expected to form social networks to connect with each other. Students can form groups even if they are geographically located thousands of miles from one another.

The project intends to research, experiment and build an online collaborative environment for learning applications on the net applicable for higher education and in this context design learning.

Key Theme3 - Digital Design Resource Database including the craft sector:
The main activities::
a. Create systems for documentation of existing knowledge of design and crafts both in the formal as well as in the informal sector. The documentation could be through video, photos, documentaries, interviews, case studies, sketches, digital mappings, etc.
b. Create access to this information – which will become the knowledge source for research and further development in the field of design.

The digital design resource database will make information available to more number of people located in different places as well as enabling the access of this information at different times. Termed as a "virtual" or "digital" design resource database, this will have the capacity to allow the user access to information in multiple formats and media, independent of their physical location or ownership. In an efficient way it could help in the transformation, the generation, the storage, the dissemination and the management of knowledge.