Sunday, September 16, 2007

Podcasts as a Strategy for expanding the reach of Design Education in India

Image: Prof Ranjan's office, with books and thought leaders Photo: Praveen Nahar, NID.

As design teachers we are constantly preparing visual presentations to share our understanding of our subjects and the tools for design education have been going through a sea change in recent years with the use of computers and some truly amazing software. We have perhaps reached a stage when we can bypass the publishing barrier which is usually the availability of financial rerources as well as the controls of a traditional publisher and reach out directly to all those who need to understand the use of design as a tool for development.

One of these emerging tools is the creation of educational podcasts. Design teachers as well as design schools can use that approach and can cover many of the critical subjects that form part of a school design curriculum. These podcasts need to be designed and if school teachers decided to use these tools on a regular basis we would end up with an enormous wealth of resources for spreading the idea of design across the country with a little support from the lathargic establishment which has all but ignored design for the past fifty years.

Sample Podcast of a lecture on Design: One of many to come. "Giving Design back to Society", a presentation based on the IDSA 2006 lecture. Music clip: from South Africa, the seat of human civilisation.

I have made a sample podcast today using an existing lecture presentation as a base from which to explore our options. The 812 kb pdf file of the IDSA 2006 lecture, "Giving Design back to Society", has now been converted into a podcast which I have uploaded on YouTube and then linked to this blog post. I propose that design schools and design teachers acrooss India collaborate as part of the National Design Policy initiative to build a substantial body of teaching resources which can be used to change mindsets across India and help grow the use of design in all the sectors of our economy, all 230 of them.

While we can wait till eternity for NCERT to introduce Design in the high school curriculum and then try and raise the resources to make the books and knowledge resources ready through Government funding, I believe we can move forward very quickly, if only we were to adopt a strategy of "make-and-share-directly", we can reach our audience across India in an affordable manner. Each participating school and teacher can make a list of subjects and courses and specific concepts that they can cover and we can then have a space where all these can be rated and shared in a dynamic manner. We need to reach our youth with the message of design and try and develop a broader understanding of the subject than that which is being portrayed in the traditional media, of glamour and style, and move it to one of substance and value creation for society and our culture. This, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, can be truly transforming and it may be one way to beat the entrenched system in a win-win combination for all concerned. Any takers?

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