Session 2: Participatory Research Methodologies and Pedagogies

The second session focused on how the hierarchy of powers in educational and research institutions can be reimagined. Presentations included perspectives from information technology NGOs, a government school teacher, a university professor, and university students of development and social sciences. Emerging themes included the importance of the role of technology in education to distribute the privileges of the hegemonical classes to marginalized peoples and the need to unlearn and rethink calcified ways of thinking, researching, and intervening.


  • Gurumurthy Kasinathan (IT for Change) & Radha Narve (Government High School, Begur)
  • Shashi Shikha, Namrata Acharya & Bishaka Mishra (CDP Ambedkar University)
  • Bala Krishnamoorthy (NMIMS)
  • Gurpreet Kaur (CDP Ambedkar University Delhi)


Anita Patil-Deshmukh (PUKAR)

“Collaborative creation of open educational resources by professional learning communities of teachers - experience from Karnataka Government schools”

Gurumurthy Kasinathan, IT for Change & Radha Narve, Government High School, Begur

The ‘textbook culture’ afflicts Indian school system, teachers are expected to transact the textbook, students are expected to memorise its contents, so that they can faithfully reproduce it in examinations. This supports “the transmission model of education”…. Which “tends to foster the view of the teacher as a minor technician within an industrial process, whose job is merely the ‘methodical insertion of ordered facts into the student’s mind’.” Secondly, many teachers do not go beyond the textbook to explore a topic of learning with the students. The 1995 MHRD guidelines for teacher education, the National Curricular Framework 2005 have emphasized local (district level) design and development of curricular resources, to support diverse learning contexts and support decentralisation of curriculum, and that teacher’s role is central in being the arbiter of classroom curriculum.

The Subject Teacher Forum (STF) program in Karnataka, designed and implemented by the education department, in partnership with IT for Change, attempted to integrate digital technologies (aka Information and Communication Technologies or ICT) in teacher education, to develop a participatory model of curricular resource development. In this program, government high school teachers (teaching children of marginalized sections) learnt different ICT applications, for creating resources and for teaching. Over five years (2011-16), around 20,000 teachers learnt generic text, concept mapping, image, audio and video, resource authoring tools as well as subject specific applications in Mathematics, Science and Social Science. Many have been creating ‘open educational resources’ (OER) using these applications, and sharing the OER on subject-specific, state-wide virtual forums (mailing lists) of teachers. The STF program developed digital literacy capacities of the teachers, to access available resource on the web, and adapt it for their own use.

Digital technologies present the opportunity for knowledge to be created and represented in multiple ways, that bread the traditional privileges of print as a medium of knowledge creation. The power of audio, the power of video can help turn the tables on those who holt the print hegemony. By connecting and learning, creating and learning, collaborating and learning, sharing and learning, seeking and learning, information technology was able to bring in new pedagogies into the Karnataka government school system and into society.

“Immersive Research: Building a Perspective towards the Process of Knowing-Relating-Doing”

Shashi Shikha, Namrata Acharya & Bishaka Mishra, CDP Ambedkar University

Our imaginations of community are largely informed by cultures of existing research and knowledge systems. Within these systems, often the emotional and rational are compartmentalised, personal and political are deemed different facets of the same personality and we live within contradictions. The idea of ‘immersion’ has become a relevant research praxis in development work. This methodology brings ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ together through ‘relating’. ‘Immersion’ is a medium of connections and comprehensions between the world of conscious with unconscious, reality with dreams, animate with inanimate and existing with non-existing.

The paper focuses on the understanding of adivasi communities within knowledge production in standard research and questions if one needs to indulge deeper with how a community knows and does itself into being and thus, how this affects the relation between knowing and doing. ‘Knowing and doing not only of the community but ‘knowing and doing’ within the research as also for the researcher themselves. The paper draws upon the authors’ experiences of conducting action researches in adivasi communities in Gumla, Jharkhand. Set in the context of ‘third world’ adivasi life world from which it is inspired, the paper attempts to explore methods of learning from the adivasi life-world to enable deeper understanding of the reality within which developmental work takes place. The attempt is to generate critique with respect to theories, experiences and communal sharing, and to look at processes that may lead to new ways of knowing and doing.

“Integrating experiential learning into the curriculum - A learning model for environmental education”

Bala Krishnamoorthy, Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS)

In the present set up knowledge is available in abundance. However it needs to be structured and delivered in a manner to enable the learners to apply it to their real life challenges and take appropriate decisions. Learners’ attention span has drastically reduced and it is a task to engage them into active learning as the learner is multiple presences.

This paper looks at knowledge creation in a collaborative manner. An attempt is made to create content for courses that are taught in a program for environmental education –resource conservation, waste reduction, environmental education, modules on green consumerism. This is particularly relevant for the school level program curricula where instructors can be given a paradigm to adopt with in-build opportunity to create content. These courses eventually become rich in content with multiple iterations.

“Thinking of ‘gender transformation’: Alternatives, possibilities and praxis”

Gurpreet Kaur, CDP Ambedkar University Delhi

The paper is a presentation of the work based on an intensive ‘field work’ conducted in Hoshangabad district, block Kesla, Madhya Pradesh. The work examines the practices of empowerment and its strategies at the ground level, in villages and at the block level. It is a work which critically pursues the functions of empowerment strategies and goals, with its gains and limitations and argues for an uncovering of the deeper layers embedded in the hegemony of a certain ‘kind’ of training of the rural woman. Whether this be a training to be an ‘agentic’ woman who has a ‘voice’, or it be about building her inbuilt ‘capability’ to save money and bring more income thus to the household. The narrative of SHG usually peddled in, by saying that more the money, more the options to spend it. The underlying assumption was that the woman can and will inherently always ‘save’ money even if she has the most limited amount. It is thus to unfold these practices in order to understand ‘what of’ empowerment effects (and affects) women in their everyday lives.

Women (in SHG meetings, in households, in intimate spaces), are eager to label themselves ‘empowered’. They had ‘voice’, they had knowledge of everything which will give them ‘benefit’, they could go anywhere they wanted to, and sometimes without telling their ‘husbands’, but also to ‘return’ home before it gets dark. However there was always a ‘condition’ and a ‘cost’ that was attached to the nature of their empowerment. This work then is a pursuit to debunk the usual practices of development that claim to empower women, often leading to a homogenization of their lived experiences and contextual underpinnings.

This work builds on the critique of existing practices that remain hegemonic, at the same time proposing a rethinking in alternative transformative praxis. Can we work collaboratively towards creating spaces that can foreground ‘gender’ work in its nuances and sensitivity to the pragmatic challenges and struggles in the ways life worlds are lived and engaged? The imagination of this work pushes for building collectives that come together to learn and engage and to politically challenge structures within (the family and household) and outside (the state). Perhaps this also requires a reimagining of the self-other relationship and a cultivation of meaning and purpose in varied forms of relationality, care and solidarity.