Nat Geo Explorer Education Program

March 27, 2013

A member of National Geographic Explorer Education Program conducted a presentation at HBCSE a couple of days ago.  As we know the photo, video quality of Nat Geo has always been a visual treat to us. They are now exploring into the education arena with so called state-of-the-art technology.  After the seminar, during the discussion, I made quite a lot of observations and raised some concerns as well. I thought of discussing here also.

I thought, in order to create a direct impact of the life with its environment, the appropriate context needs to be defined. Although the content was encompassing the world’s geography, to me, it does not make sense if I am not aware of the geography, the life, the environment of my own surroundings, and neighbors. I recalled that in our education system, giving Western names were being criticized and it was emphasized to give names that convey about the Indian context. I thought NGX education program is repeating the same old method.

Again talking about the context, the photos of classroom learning, were shots of  Western people. And it was being contrasted with  the lack of facilities in education which were shots of poor, tribal people with ‘look of hope’ photographs.  I did not understand why do they still hold such prejudice.  (On a side note: I recalled the scene in Munnabhai MBBS, where a tourist wants to see India and he mentions that he wants to see the crying people, sad people. To which ‘circuit’ slams him by saying that all you tourist want to portray is a bad picture of India, don’t you ever see good things of India like, Taj Mahal, etc.).

My concern, was that since the program is packaged with a subscription which can also allow online content, seems to cater to elite schools in India. But the country has a huge number of govt. schools, where there are huge number of first generation learners, let alone English speaking learners, I doubt how the program could cater to such situations. The program seems to be compliant with the smartboard method of teaching. But it does not cater to a traditional chalk and talk classroom teaching which is still being practiced in many schools in the country.

Access to teacher’s handbook is mandatory, but this is possible only after subscribing with a fee. That leaves with no option for a teacher to explore the content. I also could not get a satisfactory answer when I asked whether the content was in public domain.

The presenter made a remark, that NGX education provides knowledge, and quoted KBC’s promo ‘Gyaan hi Sabkuch hai’. To me, this kinda knowledge presented is fact-based knowledge. From the presentation, there was no hint that learning can be activity based. The program is a visual treat of photos, videos, simulations, with text. However it lacks activities. When I raised this issue, the presenter mentioned that there are activities, but it needs to be done under the supervision of teachers.  Above all the presenter also asked whether the Indian textbook provides scope for activities. Immediately I clarified that the science textbooks in the country are activity based which is a direct influence of the policy document NCF 2005.

Anyways, I am still skeptical that such a program could provide support to science learning in the country’s govt. schools, given that a large number of learners are first generation learners, native language speakers, uses traditional chalk and talk method of teaching. Let me further state, that even with such situations, I think, we are certainly doing quite well.


epiSTEME 4 poster and brochure

February 3, 2010

the epiSTEME 4 poster and brochure are ready and uploaded on the conference website:

http://www.hbcse.tifr.res.in/episteme4

both print version and web version are ready for circulation.

http://episteme4.hbcse.tifr.res.in/uploads/episteme-4-poster

http://episteme4.hbcse.tifr.res.in/uploads/episteme-4-brochure-outside

http://episteme4.hbcse.tifr.res.in/uploads/episteme-4-brochure-inside

just to add that both the poster and brochure have been designed using inkscape by me and sugra.


Wellcome images in public domain

July 13, 2007

Good news ! The Wellcome trust has released its Wellcome images in public domain. The wealth of collection portrays the 2000 years of human culture. The images are released under the Creative Commons Licence. From their press release:

Wellcome Images is the world’s leading source of images on the history of medicine, modern biomedical science and clinical medicine. All content has been made available under a Creative Commons Licence, which allows users to copy, distribute and display the image, provided the source is fully attributed and it is used for non-commercial purposes.

This news is quite exciting for me. In its collection, I searched for the images that I have been looking for, such as—Galileo’s drawings of moon’s phases, Vinci’s illustration of human anatomy, etc. This collection will be of greate value to our History of Science Exhibition.