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Welcome to metaStudio!

For the concept of what this site is about, please read below.

What are Learning Studios?

"Learning studio", (the alternative school the project intends to build as a part of the project), is a name for an active constructive, collaborative engagement of a heterogenous group of participants leading to a displayable or demonstrable product. The products can be a design, a building, a gadget, a picture, a drama, a presentation, an experiment, a graph, a knowledge base, a farm, a video, a song, a simulation, a computer program, an essay, a map, a recipe, a dish, a dress, any such fabrication etc.

A studio provides a concrete context to situate the abstract ideas of science, mathematics and other creative constructions. The learning objectives do not change from the traditional education, but the focus is more on the process of learning and reaching the objectives in an activity based, concrete close-to-life context.

Learning studios replace classrooms. A school will be reconstructed as a complex of learning studios. Students choose to go to any of the studios to participate in the ongoing construction activities. Mentors will assist the students, as well as senior students, peers help each other. This restructureded system will not have the problem of the current schools where we have very low teacher to student ratio. Apart from this, local experts who are not employed by the school system will also contribute to the various production contexts (e.g. a farmer becoming a teacher in the farm, a carpenter becoming a teacher in building of furniture etc.) Learning to read, write and compute will happen in every studio context. Networking and complex system perspective will be the model of management vis-a-vis top-to-down hierarchical management. All the activities in every studio will be mapped and mentors as well as peers can know the progress of each student by using the information infrastructure where most transactions are recorded. The mind map shows some of the learning studios that form part of a learning studio complex.

What is a metaStudio?

A metaStudio is an academy that creates designs, supports the curriculum framework of the various learning studios, develops teaching and learning sequences, evaluation methods, conducts research in learning sciences and provides a collaborative network as a scaffolding. This will inturn provides peer-to-peer infrastructural support for the day-to-day running of the learning studio complexes around the country. MetaStudio will thus be an inter-disciplinary blend of science, mathematics, cognitive science, developmental psychology, philosophy, history, sociology and architecture.

The metaStudio will use state-of-the-art ICT developments to support the learning and assessment in the cluster of learning studios across the country.

The metaStudio will itself be an exemplary campus which will be desinged as a micro-ecosystem with local production and consumption of energy and water. One of the chief responsibilities of the staff of the metaStudio will be to research and continuously shape the micro-environment to make it self-sustaining.

Present Status of Research

Considering that the idea of metaStudio is new, we provide a rationale as to why this project is important.

The idea that learning must happen in a close-to-life context is not new. Several pragmatists and visionaries advocated such ideas and have implemented them in varying degree of success. John Dewey established a Laboratory School in 19th century borrowing the ideas of architectural education. Architects borrowed it from artists. Students work as apprentices with masters/mentors and participate in the creative/production activity of the masters. They learn by doing and presenting. Evaluation is mostly done by recognition among the peers. The current system of classroom education was introduced in the post-industrial societies to produce a large number of graduates that can cater to the administrative and factory environments.

Several scholars have demonstrated and criticized the failure of the current education system where meaningful learning is a rarity. Of them the studies of Paulo Freire (1921-1997), Seymour Papert (1929-), Ivan Illych (1926-2002), Jean Piaget (1896-1980), John Dewey (1859-1952) are most notable. Each of their reasons may be different, but several experiments were done in response to their thought provoking interventions.

Several people have done excellent work in different parts of the world in renovating education. Some of the projects and people who have inspired this project are listed below

   * The Laboratory Schools: Univeristy of Chicago
   * Learning in Informal and Formal Environments
   * MIT Media Labs
   * Nuffield Curriculum
   * Shantiniketan (Visvabharati)
   * Rishi Valley Education (Jiddu Krishnammurthy Foundation)
   * One Laptop per Child (OLPC)
   * Sugar Labs
   * Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education: Activity based education for science and mathematics learning.
   * Building as a Learning Aid (BALA), Several schools in India are coming up under this title.
   * Arvind Gupta Toys
   * Schools that Learn, Peter Senge and
   * Seymour Papert.
   * Mitchell Resnick,
   * Ury Welensky
   * Wikipedia
   * Richard Stallman and the GNU project
   * Debian GNU/Linux project 

We think therefore that time has come to bring together the rich experience of all these innovative ventures in education to create a nurturing academy, metaStudio, that will spur and support the establishment of several studio complexes at various places across the country, and possibly at other parts of the world. Unlike the earlier ventures, the current proposal is also a design innovation so that the existing village schools can be re-structured to become learning studio complexes taking full advantage of the organic life patterns in a rural life. This makes this project scalable and replicable. It is almost impossible to establish thousands of Shantniketans or Rishivalley schools. But, if we restructure our living environment by enriching the system interactions and develop an infrastructure that supports everyone by providing learning opportunities within we can have a sustainable close-to-life learning environments.

A brief comparison between the current schooling system and the learning studios will give a idea of the vision behind the project. Current Schools Learning Studios students are consumers students are producers and creators content is delivered content is created learning is passive learning is active class consists of a uniform group grouping is relative to the project curriculum is linear curriculum is organic (network) graduation is yearly graduation is regular (projects) focus is on product focus is on process master-student relationship peer-to-peer relationship concrete things are made abstract abstract things are made concrete

From where do we draw the confidence and inspiration? In the recent past we have witnessed two gigantic creations by the global community:

   * GNU/Linux Operating System
   * Wikipedia 

Most of the thousands of contributors who created the above two gigantic projects are creative people belonging to the commons and their contributions are not part of the existing formal structures. Most of these contributions are voluntary. This demonstrates what a distributed media like Internet could achieve. This movement harnessed the creative potential of common people creating the foundation of a new creative commons.

The lessons that we can learn from this success stories are:

   * everyone can play a creative role in building a constructive society
   * to create a sustainable creative commons we need a large number of producers in the society (currently the system encourages people to remain as consumsers with little incentive or support for creative contributions from commons.)
   * collaborative and peer-to-peer infrastructures can provide a sustainable scaffolding for a life-long learning society.
   * people can learn and contribute at the same time. 

Inspired by these predicaments, we launched the lab, which today has acquired the required technical skills to provide a free distributed information infrastructure to support the studio learning environments across the country. As a part of the 11th Plan has been launched and is accummulating a network of teaching and learning sequences that includes both concepts and activities. This network will evolve as a scaffolding of the studio based learning envisaged.

The gnowledge lab already gained expertize in computer based studios covering education from primary to higher education.

collage of studios

In continuation of this distributed network pactices, we plan to create a network of people with diverse skills and provide almost everyone an opportunity and recognition. The heterogenity of skills among people will be an asset in building the blended studio network. Thus we intend to extend the lessons learnt from the free software and free knowledge movements to education.

The intended impact of such a system is to enhance contributions from all walks of life and generate a sense of mutual respect. Thus, the fragmented and abstract nature of traditional learning in schools can be rectified by situating the subjects in the concrete environment of the studios, which are close-to-life. Thus, it creates a network of inter-disciplinary understanding.

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