“STUDY LOCALLY – LEARN GLOBALLY”: A CASE STUDY ACROSS 10 YEARS OF ELEARNING/KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN A LEADING INDIAN SCIENCE
& TECHNOLOGY UNIVERSITY AND ART & DESIGN SCHOOL
( Paper presented at the Edulearn 12 International conference in Barcelona, July 2012)
Faculty, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology (Bangalore, INDIA) E-mail: email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org
This paper is a general case study of author’s work during 2001-2012 in two settings – one of India’s largest private Multi campus-Multi disciplinary university, and an Art& Design school. The work explored encompasses areas of e-learning and Knowledge Management, and building sustainable ICT enabled learning systems using Open Source software. While the primary focus is on the genesis, growth and continued development of learning resource systems at these places, significant emphasis is given on the human factors that decide the success and sustenance of such systems and its emergent possibilities. This of course will always be a work in progress that gets redefined and revivified. The paper is structured at two levels. First level deals with the work from 2001-2009 exploring in detail the cultural, technological and academic settings of the University in context. I further explore the composition and extent of resources necessary to build an intranet digital learning repository and e-learning environment, how it was integrated to existing learning/teaching/dissemination systems and later scaled to cutting edge ICT enabled learning fostering a blended learning environment which is now networked via satellite across its four campuses. This work is now recommended by Government of India’s University Grants Commission, National Accreditation and Assessment Committee and Ministry of IT as a model repository that could be replicated by other Universities. The second level deals with the author’s experience through 2009-2012 in building a learning resource base and e-learning environment in a top Indian Art & Design school. This intranet platform is called “Cantadora”. This level explores the nuances of information organization and dissemination in similar settings and interesting emergence of activities on the science and technology front as well by Art and Design students. These students won awards upon entering into an international science competitions at MIT and Harvard, USA. It also looks into ways that could foster interdisciplinary approaches in Art and Design practices. By explaining in depth and detail the workings of a system that worked and is still working well, the aim of the paper is to open up new pathways and collaborative activities towards building sustainablescalable ICT enabled learning environments. Keywords: e-learning, knowledge management, ICT enabled education, information management, information architecture.
The first phase of 2000 is the time when internet began to penetrate into our lives which naturally found its way into the academic scene as well. While many saw immense potential of the educational uses of internet, its integration into the educational scenario was a rather slow process, at least in the settings where I began to work in the area of ICT enabled learning and teaching. This was specifically because of the mindset of many who watched with awe the alarming pace at which information grew, this is also a mindset hardened by the lack of willingness to let go of certain methodologies, beliefs and an authoritarian approach towards information dissemination. Since mindsets do have a natural tendency to carry forward I feel it would be a fruitful exercise to look into how things changed from outright negation to acceptance and inclusiveness and who brought about this possibly could shed light on how to turn around the situation that could manifest in different forms. I must mention here that this case study is written more as a first person narrative and less as a
conventional paper with extensive quotes and citations. I believe that every work of passion if it is a labour of love has to speak for itself and this is an attempt to place before you such a work which could possibly open up new pathways. In fact the work was a long experiment in response to certain situations. Theory did not feed in much into it or rather it could contribute to a well defined theoretical frame work too given the fact that the experiment produced interesting results. Experiments do confirm theories, sometimes it could churn out new theories as well.
PROJECT ‘VIDYA’ AT AMRITA UNIVERSITY, INDIA The setting
I joined Amrita University in 1999 with basically no background in IT, my previous experience was in the field of Avionics engineering. Since my first tenure here was primarily with the Computing facilities across the campus, I had a good opportunity to closely observe how computing resources were used. Random or specific google searches filled up most of the computing time of what remained of the time students had to do their assignments. I was aware of the fact that the library had hundreds of recourse CDs that came as accompanying learning material with some text books. Not much of them found their way to the computer labs during early 2000s. When enquired with some students i got the answers: a) When there is Google why should I take the trouble of going to the library and lend a CD. b) If the CDs are damaged there is no way I can replace it or there could a fine I am expected to pay. c) When I want a specific CD it is not there, someone has taken it or the CD just does not read. These answers were quite disturbing because of what they deprived themselves of in terms of enhancing their learning. It was clear to that a single storage medium could be the limiting factor. Another thing that I noticed was the nature of text books students relied on those days. Majority of them depended heavily, if not only, on local textbooks written from the view point of just answering questions in the examination. So one day I went to the library to have a look at the collection of books on various subjects and I was thrilled to find some of the finest text books from around the world were there – but mostly un touched except by some faculty members. So, I went around again asking students why is it that they do not make use of those books and the answers were this: a) Those books are difficult to understand because they are written by top professors. b) They are not the prescribed text books for the course. I also had lot of opportunities to interact with the Professors in the campus and from them I came to know that most of them have their own collection of resources collected from the internet and CDs from the library, conference proceedings etc.
It was just around then i started dabbling around with basic HTML and CSS when made an attempt to put together the first comprehensive website of Amrita University. Around the year 2000 I tried installing Windows server in a simple, low end desktop and that was a platform for me to experiment with the campus network of nearly 1000 desktops connected. Once I learned how to set up a simple directory listing server I went around asking for resources from some professors who happily shared what they had. I collected it, categorised it in a general way with the major subject names for each directory and opened up the server for campus wide access. It was a simple Intranet web archive and named it “Vidya” (Vidya in Sanskrit language means Knowledge). The next step was to put up simple notes across the notice boards in the campus pointing to the URL of this intranet resource which at that time was not more than few Hundred Mega Bytes of resources put together with basic catagorisation. Later a simple webpage was put together with titles of the content hyperlinked to the respective directories/files. As the word spread among students, I did notice untouched books in the library used by the students. Since many of the basic digital resources in ‘Vidya’ were from the accompanying CD that came with those books it helped debunk the belief/fear that such books are abstruse. The digital counterparts of the books in a way helped students befriend the books themselves – a sort of first introduction. Google searches in the campus began to take an interesting turn – students started Googling the names of authors/professors/scientists whom they came across in the initial compilation of ‘Vidya’ resource base. This produced some very interesting results. Many students began writing to professors all over the world and some of the eventually went on to study under those academicians, they joined web rings/interest groups and conversations on things academic were not more confined to the campus. They became a part of a global community.
‘Vidya’ continued to grow, subject listings increased with the content. Sublevel catagorisation became a necessity. Informal conversations with students brought into attention the fact that on holidays and weekends when going downtown used to be a real ordeal, they preferred to be in the computer labs some times browsing through ‘Vidya’ or even playing games under the pretext of learning. This brought in the thought of bringing in more content – more diverse content than just the regular academic stuff. There began entries on Literature, History, Philosophy, Hobbies, Culture, languages etc. This was a real eye opener of sorts. I noticed students using these newly added sections not just to read, relax or amuse themselves, instead they saw a deeper and much better use of it – to improve one’s language/communication skills. Those days it was quite unusual to find a comprehensive fiction/literature/humanities collection in a typical engineering/business school. The supplementary digital resources culled out of the world wide web filled that gap.
In the year 2002 something amazing happened in the World Wide Web – the release of MIT-OCW. This opened up immense possibilities. Well structured online courses for free access from some of the best professors brought in the dimension of auto-didactic, self paced learning and with the release of video lectures of many courses replete with reading list and assignments began to draw attention of the teachers in the campus too. Video lectures available online were downloaded and stored in the local server hooked to the campus intranet which in turn saved internet bandwidth/reduced internet traffic to and to and from the campus and above all users could download it all from the local server and store it in their storage devices. ‘Vidya’ began a significant learning/teaching aid in the campus, more so when teachers began to recommend the resources in ‘Vidya’ for further exploration of specific topics. I must add here that while many teachers eagerly welcomed the way ‘Vidya’ was growing, there were naturally a few that viewed it with a kind of scepticism. Some even secretly voiced the concern: ‘ if the students learn things even before they come to class, who will listen to my lectures? ‘. But this was a short lived fear when they realised soon that they can also enrich themselves on the knowledge front which will naturally reflect in their lectures and more over nothing can really replace the presence of a teacher in the classroom primarily because a teacher can revivify content in his/her own way and here in a way the teacher’s joy of seeing students comprehend ideas and concepts better is the real reward. No teacher passionate about learning and teaching can deny this. The year 2002 was significant in many ways because of the immense possibilities it opened up in ICT based learning and teaching. With some software tools in place I was able to record the access statistics which helped a great deal towards pooling in resources, some of which have a kind of seasonal sway. For example, I noticed that there is heavy demand for basic mathematics / science / language / communication skills/analytical problem solving learning/practice resources and general reading resources across the disciplines during the campus placement season and so is the demand for project reports during the academic year end phase, in short learning the subject in depth to building a career out of it depended so much on the resource base in the campus and ‘Vidya’ responded to it. Well, in any campus the time of fierce competition is the time of campus placements - when friends compete with friends to clinch the best job, when there is a kind of secrecy in the resources one uses and the way one prepares. It is here I thought I must try out something that could possibly bring in better peer bonding than distancing just because one is competing with the other. So I decided to meet as many students individually as possible and ask them about the resources they have collected and requested them to share it which they readily did and over few days i had a huge collection of crowd sources resources which each one maintained total secrecy about. I put it all together for campus wide access and in a short while I noticed groups and communities being formed for combined study sessions and students started voluntarily giving the resources they individually collected. Competition is inevitable in many cases, but better results could be produced with cooperation, a sense of independence nurtured by inter-dependence can prevail when learning together becomes a mutually enriching process. It was also interesting to note the way weekends and holidays were used in more productive ways. Here is the ‘Vidya’ access statistics in 2002, when it began to get better structured replete with multimedia based learning resources. Please refer Fig.1
‘Vidya’ w went through lot of interfa changes during the n ace s next 3 years and these changes inco s c orporated suggesti ions from stu udents and f faculty memb bers. Studen and faculty members began to ta active nts ake role in th growth of ‘Vidya’ and worked towa he ards initiative to popular es rise Vidya an extend its reach to nd s as many as possible. y
With the arrival of external hard disks and o e other storage mediums ‘ e ‘Vidya’ users began dow s wnloading resource from the server to collect, collate, organise an build their own person knowledg bases. es s nd r nal ge Many of them went o to share/g on give their res sources to fri iends at othe colleges, their school t er t teachers, neighbou or just an one whom they felt needed the in urs ny m nformation. A culture of e empathy, sha aring and giving na aturally bloss somed. I hav been ofte deeply mo ve en oved when I found many students an faculty y nd member coming ba after vac rs ack cations and h holidays with of resource they collec h es cted which they were eager to contribute to ‘Vidya’ resource base, most of them never even wanted the names me o m eir entioned. Mobile p phones with v video playba facilities had been a c ack craze in the campus. I sa a good n aw number of students using such mobile phon s nes. Conside ering the fact that there was no intern connectiv in the t w net vity student hostels and laptops wer not officially allowed, I thought wh not conve some of t video re hy ert the lectures/ /talks into 3GP/MP4 fo 3 ormat which many mob h bile phones supported then. This had an s interestin spin off – students co ng ould be seen watching vi n ideo lectures s/talks while waiting for a delayed train in the local railw station, they could a way also be seen watching/lis stening to talks and lectures while travelling It was he g. eartening to see an othe erwise mere communica e ation/entertainment gadg being get used for effective lea r arning as we Learning resources b ell. began to nav vigate throug mobile ph gh hones as MMS. With Gig Bytes of c ga content adde every day to the resou ed y urce base, th here arose th necessity to make he y the content searchab and bette reachable Since the text base co ble er e. ontent was e enormous I tu urned my attention to first make at least t n the audio/vid deo collectio searchable. After look on king at vario Open ous source s software plat tforms availa able at that time I decide to try out ‘D-Space’ de ed eveloped by MIT-HP. The ent tire audio/vi ideo collection index listing was moved into a new web page w o with each video/co ollection anno otated and t tagged which was later plugged into D-Space in h o nterface. The system e worked v very well an this additi nd ion brought in a vital dy ynamic element to ‘Vidya Few who saw the a’. o resource base just a a mere co e as ollection of information g gathered from the World Wide Web began to m explore the resource base bette than befor after all a assembla of books e er re, an age shops never makes a The u naturally exci ited because they could search and find the med based e dia library. T regular users were n content t they wanted. D-Space in ndexed admi irably well th page title, annotation, key words, tags and he main Du ublin-core ele ements. The way D-Spa was welcomed by th campus f e ace he fraternity was a clear indication that search utility is an important element. But I refrained from indexing the text co n e t f ontent for some m more time pr rimarily to in nduce some randomnes into seek ss king and find ding informa ation - to metapho orically put it across, I wanted them to experie m ence the joy of explorin a wild ra forest y ng ain discover ring things a random, unexpectedl than to ta at ly ake them th hrough a landscape like search e mechani ism directly to the inform t mation they w were looking for. I have heard from m many users that they looked f somethin through t for ng the table of contents a f and found o other interes sting things – it was stumblin on interesting findings than just pu ng urposeful get tting. Lest, I think many would not ha come w ave across th diversity of content in the resourc base whic in turn did add much to cultivating an inter he n ce ch d g disciplina approach ary h.
The dem mand for a ro obust conten search eng nt gine gradually increased and I began looking for an open n r source/fr enterpris search engine capable of deep ind ree se e dexing the do ocument con ntent of ‘Vidy it was ya’, also disc cussed with a few IT sa avvy students Finally the best suggestion came from a stud s. e e dent who pointed t the free search applic to cation “IBM-Y Yahoo Omnif find” built aro ound Lucene algorithm. This was e immedia ately integrate to ‘Vidya’ and in a few days’ time the reposito became fully searchable. IBMed ’ w ory f Omnifind is strongly recommended for dee content s d y ep search and i additiona features o adding it’s al of synonym to search queries/re ms h ecommended link pointe etc are essential fu d ers unctionalities for any s information/resource repository. e Adding a search eng gine to local repositories comprising of resource gathered from the inte s es f ernet has significance. There a websites with valuab resource material with no search engine inco are s ble h orporated. When su resource are downloaded and p uch es plugged into an intranet resource bas with searc engine r se ch incorpora ated a lot of information locked up c f n could surface better. Mo over it is observed th some ore hat good we resources just disapp eb s pear.If a goo web resou od urce is ident tified and wh hatever that could be downloa aded is down nloaded and indexed, it c could later pr rove to be of invaluable use for a lon time to f u ng come. W When some of the top ranking officials from the Minis e o m stry of Information Tec chnology, Governm ment of India visited the c campus and was given a presentation of/on ‘Vidy what they wrote in n ya’, y the feedback book is interesting. Please refer Fig.2 s r
arch engine in place ‘V Vidya’ got a real face lif and in a short while students an faculty ft nd With sea member started de rs eveloping tut torial materia in-house. With in-hou developed resource material als . use e too added to Vidya updated o a regula basis Vidya evolved from an inf a, on ar formation ba ase to a Knowled dge manage ement platfor rm. Since, by then, the campus w b e was connecte to the o ed other four campuse spread a es across Sout India via ISRO’s Ed th duSat satellite, this resource base became assessable to other campuses as well. Just as access ra increased the deman for more r a ate d, nd resources from acr ross the cam mpuses too increased w which natura led to m ally more storage space and servers. e It was around that ti ime the univ versity was d for accre due editation and assessmen by the nat d nt tion’s top higher education bod dies like NAA and UGC Confronted with a big question ‘how can one p AC C. d prove that Vidya is seamlessly integrated in the curriculum’, I had to explore ways to ma relevant c nto d ap content in Vidya to the syllabu o us/curriculum Since the university follows sem m. e mester syste and the syllabus em remains fixed till it is revised an work done on this front will have sufficient life expectancy In due s ny e e y. course the entire syllabus of all major cours offered in the campu was mapp to corresponding ses n us ped resource material in Vidya. This was great appreciat e n tly ted by the NAAC/UGC officials as a model N system t that could b followed by other universities in India. What started off as a chaotic flux of be t information bifurcate in many ways and much emerged from it b ed m beyond pred dictable expe ectations. versity had by then se up a state of the art e-learning centre linke to over 25 other et t ed The univ universit ties across In ndia. Since the students and faculty w were, by then, quite acclimatised to e extensive use of d digital learnin resources much grou work nee ng s, und eded for an e-learning s up to take off well set e was alre eady done. All the lecture conducted at the e-lea A es d arning centre beamed vi satellite ac e ia cross the colleges in India we recorded and archiv ere d ved in “Vidy thus producing unive ya” ersity’s own learning resource available for all. This was an interesting turn of events – Vidya resource base tha started es at off as a modest resource base with just ma aterial gathe ered from the internet ev e ventually bec came the Universit ty’s principa Knowledge Management platform which host al e m ted lectures series and talks by
eminent academician from the w ns world over. The university now remains a pioneer in the field of e- with T r hosts of for e-learnin tools deve ng eloped by the university o open sour platform. e on rce By 2008 ‘Vidya’ had its mirror se 8 ervers in other campuses as well and continue to exist custo s o omised to campus specific req quirements w while the base repositor still remai ry ins the central digital kn nowledge base at t university headquarte in in Coimbatore whe I was based. In 2008 the access statistics the ers ere 8 showed amazing growth curve, more than 200% growth rate. Plea % ase refer t to Fig.3
est and to s umentary As intere groups a communities began t form around Vidya came initiatives like a Docu club, Mo ovie club, As stronomy clu Photography club, Re ub, ecreational e electronics c club etc. The could ese easily be formed bec e cause the re esources they used and s y shared, reco ommended to others help them o ped discover each othe better. A group of students wen on to launch an inr er s nt -house Scie ence and Technolo magazin called “An ogy ne nweshi” that hosted cont tributions fro the camp fraternity science om pus y, and tech hnology upda ates, cartoon puzzles, interviews e This mag ns, etc. gazine also had a sectio on the on most pe ertinent upda ates in ‘Vidya and it was distributed freely in th campus. A group wen a step a’ d he nt further to use the ma o agazine pape to cover books and o ers other things. While this served as a thoughtful marketin strategy it was also a a example of ‘informatio packaged by information pointing to further ng an on d information’ in a palp pable way, w without caus sing much of an informat f tion overload The diagra given d. am below i the info is ormation arc chitecture/pr rocess flow diagram of Vidya. Please ref fer Fig.4
end 2 me Vidya’ had grown into a multi Tera B g Byte, fully By the e of year 2008 (the tim I left the university) ‘V searchab repositor which is st maintained as it is in d ble ry till different cam mpuses custo omised to the needs. eir Note: Th narrative presented here is dev he void of much essential technical/qua h antitative inf formation because of enormity of data associated with it. The author would be glad to shar any inform e y re mation on this. ponses/reflec ction of users (representi Amrita U s ing University student fraternity) could be found  The resp and mor detailed in re nformation [2 on Project ‘Vidya’ coul be found on the link g 2] t ld o given in the r reference section o the paper. of
PR ROJECT ‘C CANTADO ORA’ AT SR RISHTI SC CHOOL OF ART, DE F ESIGN AND D TECHNOLOG INDIA GY, A
I joined the school in 2009, afte nearly 9 years with Am er y mrita Univers sity. It did not take much time to and that Sris shti has a m mode of academic functi ioning far different from Amrita Univ versity in understa terms of curriculum design, teaching and practices. Th way a resource base was built i Amrita f p he e in Universit may not q ty quite work at Srishti beca t ause of the s specific infor rmation requ uirement and different d ways of using inform mation. But n nevertheless there were n nuances I co ould draw fro my previous work om on proje Vidya an I could s ect nd see a pattern that conne ects in term of information origina ms ation and dissemin nation. It is a attempt to build a learn an ning resource base bette suited for S e er Srishti that re esulted in creating the repository “Cantador (in Spanis means Ke ra” sh eeper/teller o old stories of s). One of India’s top ar and design schools, Sr rt n rishti is know for it’s inn wn novative expe eriments in t areas the pedagogical reforms, new media pra w actices, socia media. al of design practices, educational research, p When Science and t technology is more used as a means to express artistic crea s d s s ativity or to a address a social ca ause, enviro onmental issue, new mo odes of communication e it require a differen way of etc es nt organisin informatio specifical scientific literature. Th flexible/fluid curriculum is another i ng on, lly l he m important aspect th is a majo deciding fa hat or actor in desig gning and bu uilding a reso ources base. When what is taught is more theme based, than mere subjects, with input fro diverse s e w om subjects, it becomes a th horoughly interdisc ciplinary lear rning and te eaching exer rcise. But th challenge are enorm he es mous in dea aling with scientific literature w c when you dea with stude al ents who are here to ma on art& design pract e ajor tices. But their pas ssion for scie ence – to un nderstand ho things wo and build things prod ow ork d duced some amazing outcome that caug attention the world over. Before I get to th es ght o e hat, let me s straight get into how ‘Cantado got built. ora’ . A digital resource b l base could u undoubtedly reduce pap consump per ption and sin nce Srishti i deeply is concerne about sustainability, the idea of setting up a digital reso ed ource base w encouraged right was from the beginning. The resourc first colle e ces ected (article papers, e es, ebooks, web archives, et tc..) were categoris sed author wise (in case where the are at le w es ere east 2 books by a given author) and the rest s d were cat tagorised subject wise. T same criterion was a The applied to me edia resource as well. T entire es The collection was initiall put up in a campus in ly ntranet serve with just directories listed. But this posed a er s major pr roblem – only those who are familiar with a spec o r cific author w be able t figure the possible will to content i that specif directory which means the reach is going to b minimal or rather it serves only in fic be those wh already know someth ho k hing about what they are looking for. This is where I began to think of o building a fully searc chable repos sitory that could be easily used by the first year s y students to th senior he members her re. faculty m
The initia architectur (refer Fig. al re .5(a)) envisa aged was a m more elabora one geare towards b ate ed building a compreh hensive intra anet portal, eventually it got trimm med to a focussed res f source man nagement architect ture. A uniqu layering t ue that was trie out was m ed mapping the library print edition boo to it’s t oks digital co ounterparts ( (audio/video/ /text) to prov vide a more g generally accessible info ormation bas around se a book and it’s auth (refer Fig.5(b)). This has the ad hor s dvantage of no one retu urning empty handed y should o one realise t that the book one wante to take is already len out. One still manage to find ed s nt es pertinent information on what o t n one looked for. This br rought in im mmense possibilities of semantic layering as well, for e example a physics book by Richard Feynman in the library co ould also be linked to the video o/audio lectu ures by Feyn nman, biographical/historical information on Feynm and the areas of man e
physics he dealt with In fact this equips the potential rea h. s ader to be be etter prepared to explore the book deeper if he/she finds it right then or later. f n D-Space was initially tried out, but it did no quite take off well here possibly due to custo e ot e omisation limitation and lack of plug-in a ns availability. T The next thought was to see if any open-source content o e management system (CMS) co ms ould be used. After look king at vario ous CMS pla atforms I de ecided on ‘Wordpre ess’ for its e ease of use and customisation. The challenge was to warp layers of se w earchable information around individual dir i rectories listed A to Z. W Weaving lay yers of annot tation and ta were ags importan because th is the only way some one could re nt his y each a specific resource through a se earch just as anoth with prior knowledge about the au her r uthor/subject would reach h. rectory (with author’s name or subje name) wa picked up to have a specific page replete ect as p Each dir with ann notation, tags comments and discus s, s ssions open. A good loo at Wikipe ok edia entries gave the convictio that anno on otation can b the conte from cor be ent rresponding Wikipedia page becaus of the p se candidne ess and cro owd sourced richness o the conte d of ent. Tags ca ame from related webs sites and discussio ons with the faculty me e embers. Eve entually the entire A-Z listing that appeared a simple as directory listing had individual pa y ages for eac entry with ‘Wordpress engine indexing the an ch s’ nnotation, tags, com mments and discussions on it. Srishti being a pla where me s ace edia resources are heavi used it ily was just apt to cross link audio/video resourc related to each entry. ces o f ’ ummarised as follows. (R Refer Fig 6) The main features of ‘Cantadora’ could be su 1 Each dire 1. ectory has a dedicated page annotated and tagge (Fig 6 (a)) p ed 2 Tags app 2. pear as dyna amic tag clou (Fig 6 (b)) ud ) 3 The tags appear in a 3. s alphabetical o order (Fig 6 ( (c))
Deep co ontent searc was put into place through the free enterp ch prise search engine ‘IBM-Yahoo h OmniFin It crawls through the directory structure (Refer Fig 6(a)) and display the searc results nd’. e ) ys ch (Refer F 6(b)) in specific categ Fig gories groupe into eBoo ed oks, Audio,V Video,Web ar rchives, Jour rnals and Magazin nes. This rep pository contr ributes signif ficantly to the resource material pooling for the co e m ourses at Srishti. F Faculty mem mbers contrib bute to it just as they tak from it. T vision is to build this up as a ke The s robust FEDORA (Fle exible Extens sible Digital O Object Repos sitory Archite ecture) resou urce base.
ories like this usually ta ake time to get noticed, but in Srishti the result was real time and Reposito immedia ate. In the year 2009 Srishti took a bold step towards som y mething  not even full-fledged Science and Techno ology schools would dare to think o Srishti took part in th iGEM competition of. he
(International Genetically Engineered Machines) held at MIT and won the best presentation award. Srishti continued to take part in the competition with junior students making the core group working on some of the intricate and complex ideas and processes of genetic engineering, the team aptly named “Art Science Bangalore” mentored by Srishti faculty/artist Yashas Shetty and a group of scientists from National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS).Young aspiring artists working on genetic engineering and that too using the laboratory equipments they built on their own ?..such is the marvel that can happen when right kind of recourses reach the hands of eager, bold teachers and students. Grooming the team for the 2010 iGEM competition Yashas remarked that with extensive resource materials in place in two weeks they could cover the scientific concepts in depth which otherwise would have taken over two months. In 2011 Srishti went on to win the iGEM 2011 Award for “Best Humanitarian Practices” at MIT and the Silver medal in “Bio-molecular Design competition(BIOMOD)” at Harvard . They way this was achieved could be perhaps one of the finest examples of auto-didactic learning, bold experimentation and thoughtful use of learning resources. In the words of Yashas Shetty: “India has had a rich resource of people doing things themselves-In the west, the jargon for this is DIY, sustainability etc. we just call it “Jugaad”. In 2009, Srishti along with NCBS started a partnership to throw art students and scientists together. In the spirit of "DIY" archives, we used the “Cantadora” archive to organize lectures on molecular biology and nanotechnology. For a small art school in India, to compete with colleges at MIT and Harvard, 'Cantadora' Archive is invaluable-from documentaries, lesson plans to books, the archive made nanotechnology and biotechnology accessible to first year art students-many of them with no clue about what "science" is. When I say science, I use the word in the context of its multiple meanings both in the west and in India. Using technology, Ajai has upgraded, these archives, which for Indians always was in the form of memory(smriti) and turned it into shruti(word and action)"  For initiatives like the ‘Jugad’ to flourish it requires incessant flow of information that drives innovation. It is here local repositories that are scalable and easily deployable can play a major role towards decentralising knowledge. Most of results and findings based on high end research funded by public money does not often become accessible to the general public. But there is ray of hope here when many scientists are increasingly becoming supportive of movements like ‘Jugad’ and possibly the noclassified information available to them (which usually gets locked up in IPR clauses) could find a streamlined flow to people who need, who can perhaps make better use of it and solve problems. An practical example of such an open system could be found in the work of Yashas Shetty and team. Srishti has taken initiatives to contribute towards public understanding of science as well. A recent example of this was Srishti’s involvement in setting up a week long Astronomy festival collaborating with major research organisations in the country. A video archive called “Cosmix” was built by the author driven by the conviction that science education will become more dynamic if an interdisciplinary approach is adopted, because every object of scientific significance also could have a philosophical import, cultural dimensions, historical relevance, poetic and musical nuances, spiritual depth and social/societal implications. A pattern that connects is what we sought knowing very well that different people with varying backgrounds will identify themselves with surely one or more of these dimensions. This is the primary idea behind the COSMIX archive architecture. This is a web archive collection of around 200 video clips (of 50 seconds to 14 minutes duration) taken from over 80 documentaries on Astrophysics and Cosmology. All the clips are annotated and tagged which will make the videos searchable and all this is built into a simple web environment that makes it easily deployable with the minimum available infrastructure. This is categorized into four themes 1.The Mythic Universe 2. The Modern Universe 3.The Mysterious Universe 4. The Magnificent Universe. This evoked immense interest in the general public across all age groups and the collection was freely distributed on DVDs to all those who asked for it. Srishti’s institutional repository is being built and this is available for the general public. This is built on an open source platform called “Omeka” . As Srishti moves into the Blackboard e-learning platform, ‘Cantadora’ is all set to function as the resource base supporting the e-learning initiatives.
Though this case study spans the years 2000-2012 it can be seen that similar conditions do exist at many levels despite technological advancements. This points to the fact that one needs to look into the human factors that drive a system – be it educational technological or otherwise. Some of the most pertinent observations bases on the author’s experience are as follows:
1. The problem of short attention span is not something that manifests only when one uses digital resources. It is something that is very much there in the classroom as well. A student may possibly be attentive for 25% of the total time in the classroom. What is missed out in the other 75% of the time could be compensated for with the help of supplementary digital resources that can be used for self paced learning, it could also activate an autodidactic mode of learning. 2. Building networked institutional/community based search enabled repositories can bring in an abundance of authentic resource material. 3. A culture of sharing and giving naturally becomes increasingly prevalent in an environment when resources become available for all across the disciplines and specialisations. 4. Multiple learning resources effectively deal with the issue of assumed single authority of knowledge. 5. If existing IPR clauses could be refined and redefined it could free up massive information locked up in laws and bylaws. 6. Portable, self contained, easily deployable resource repositories can considerably augment the learning and teaching experience in places without a library or required resource base. 7. A specific resource suggested by an individual is far more authentic and better accepted than the ones pointed to by search algorithms in most cases. 8. Many open learning initiatives could be launched once the available resource is pooled and organised – there is an increasing number of people eager to learn for the sheer joy of learning than to get a certificate or diploma. 9. The author has worked out a basic architecture of possible learning recourse bases which the author would be happy to share across for further improvisation and development.
 Ajai Narendran (2009), "VIDYA Resource Base - a Glimpse - Some basic information about Project Vidya, and reflections from its users", 2009, http://www.scribd.com/doc/94962759/VIDYA-Resource-Base-a-Glimpse Anweshi, Amrita University (2008), "VIDYA - The tree of knowledge", 2008, http://www.scribd.com/doc/46504617/VIDYA-Amrita-Interview Team:ArtScienceBangalore (2009), "Team:ArtScienceBangalore",iGEM,MIT 2009, http://2009.igem.org/Team:ArtScienceBangalore/Team Srishti website, Art Science team wins Best Human Practice award at iGEM at MIT, Boston (2011), http://2009.igem.org/Team:ArtScienceBangalore/Team Yashas Shetty (2012), vide e-mail interview (2012), May 2012 Yashas Shetty,Et al (2012), Interdisciplinary initiatives, http://thedepartment.in/index.php| http://artscienceblr.org | http://metmap.in | http://hackteria.org | http://theisro.org Srishti Digital Archive, 2010, http://cema.srishti.ac.in/birdseyeview/