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Call for integration of geography with science courses

New Delhi, India: There is a need to revamp Geography/GIS and Design courses in India and Geography should be integrated with other IT and science courses, panellist proposed during a panel discussion, Integrated Design and Education, in New Delhi, India, hosted by GIS Development.

The panel discussion was chaired by Dr. Sanjay Dhande, Director, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur. Other panellists were Amit Khare (IAS), Joint Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India (GoI); Joe Astroth, Vice President, Worldwide Education & Learning, Autodesk; Carl Bass, President and CEO, Autodesk; Maj Gen. Dr. R Sivakumar, CEO, National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), India; and Prof Arup Dasgupta, Managing Editor, GIS Development.

At the outset, the chairperson noted, “Ingenuity in innovation and design is coming forth very forcefully in Indian society and the most important change agent in its economy. To be the best in knowledge economy, the most important element would be the ability of the society to innovate to do the designing work successfully at national as well as international level.” He said that with the help of some faculty members he has formed a forum “Design and Innovation Learning (DIL)” to promote integrated designing in India.

Later on, Prof Dasgupta made the environment lively with his critical viewpoint on education system. He observed that it is unfortunate our mindset about geography has not changed in spite of so much advancement in this domain. “In my school days, geography was part of social study and even today the situation is same. We should not forget that students with good score always prefer to choose science subject. So we loose good students when we introduce geography as a part of social study.”

Prof Dasgupta proposed to integrate geography with maths and IT subject. He demanded cross courses at senior level in premier institutions. He was surprised why there are separate departments for civil engineering and landscape designing, though both are complementary for each other?

Khare stressed the need of capacity building in India as the country has scarcity of one million school teachers. He added that quality is another big challenge when we talk about capacity building. Rapid development in education systems in India has made difficult to find eligible people at senior positions. So with the presence of premier institutions like IITs in India there is an Island of excellence as well as ocean of mediocricy. He also proposed to lessen the weight of school bags.

Maj Gen. Dr. Sivakumar claimed that India is leading nation in terms of practicing geospatial technology.  He talked about some innovative applications practiced in recent years in India. He appreciated the Bentley’s Future Cities Competition for school children. He proposed the g-governance instead of e-governance.

Bass observed that computing is being treated as the scarce resource but it is changing rapidly. He made the people acquainted with the cloud-computing where cost of computing is virtually free. He said that cloud-computing with a browser made the computing quite easy. On the other hand, Astroth talked about Autodesk’s collaboration with Project Lead the Way (PLTW) to enhance K-12 education in the US. He also introduced Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, an online portal of free educational content (including designing software suite), for students and teachers to practice sustainable design. He shared the success story of this portal in US and suggested that it can be beneficial for Indian students as well, especially for them who can’t afford costly software and high-end computers.

After the presentation, audiences’ viewpoints were invited. Vinay Maitri from School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, India, expressed his concern over capacity building. He said that we train people to teach students but soon after the training they get offer from Multinational companies. So, retaining those people is big challenge. Ranga Rao, KV Education Officer, India observed that it is proving tough to attract students towards these courses as there is no prestigious further courses at the graduate level. Dr. Seema M Parihar showed her concern over security measure in practising cloud-computing.

Source: Our Correspondent