I recently met up with R. Gopalakrishnan, Member-Secretary of the National Innovation Council. We had a wide-ranging conversation about the Council’s plans for the future, when he brought up a new topic: an Open School of Design. Evidently this idea has already been inscribed into the 12th plan, which is even now being finalized.
What might an Open School of Design mean exactly? Is it just a surface upon which different groups and stakeholders are now be projecting their own fantasies and desires? Well, perhaps this is not an entirely blank slate, but as with so many other things the NInC is doing these days, there is abundant opportunity for people to come in and define the agenda, to give it shape and meaning.
My first thought was that we should think about an Open Design School through the metaphor of open source software: there is a body of knowledge, organized in particular ways, which can be drawn upon and added to. Different players in an ecosystem hover around that resource, and enjoy different kinds of benefits from it. And to extend the metaphor further, there may be a substantial role for the private sector as well, because just as in the case of open source software, there is a need to customize and contextualize the generic ‘open’ knowledge to particular needs and applications, in order to create real value, which also takes effort, which must be remunerated.
Would such a model work? Are there precedents for this sort of thing already? Where? What can we learn from Open Schools and Open Universities from around the world? Have social media and networks created new a completely new paradigm through which we might imagine and design learning communities in wholly new ways?
We would be interested in gathering thoughts and views from different possible stakeholders for a small deliberation at some point in the next two months in New Delhi, followed by a breakout session at Design Public Four in Mumbai at the end of the year.