Creating the textbooks of the future
At PARI, we’re writing the textbooks of the future. That’s happening with the numerous stories, photos, videos and audio material going up every week on our site. It’s important that, over time, quite a bit of that is produced by students and teachers themselves.
PARI aims to help create informative and lively stories on rural India for students, teachers, schools, colleges and universities. And for learners outside such formal institutions as well. We believe teaching and learning materials, including textbooks, will increasingly move online in the next few years. That's a process already on in some parts of the world. Done right, it could mean 'textbooks' or teaching material that can be added to, amended, updated or widened. As broadband access grows, it should also mean lower costs for many students, as PARI is a free-access-to-public site.
Helping students to develop course content
We have already added a vital element to this process: on PARI, students participate in the creation of their own textbooks. If a teacher or an institution wants to set up learning resources for a course or part of a course, we will work with them to create the course content. Let’s say that's on rural labour or migrants or agriculture or artisans – we will try and involve the students in creating living knowledge on their topics through field trips.
So videos, audio recordings, photos and text articles of and by students could not only be fetching them marks or grades in their courses, but also become part of a flexible and open textbook. Also, a video on, say, agricultural labourers where the workers themselves are the narrators, where they'd be addressing audiences themselves, sharing and explaining their lives, work and world – that will make for far more compelling learning resources. These should certainly hold the attention of students, teachers, researchers and general viewers alike, far better than printed textbooks dated by some years. Especially since PARI’s approach will combine the power of text articles, research papers, video, audio and still photographs.
Unleashing a powerful source of learning
PARI has specific guidelines for videos generated for and by us, which ensure recognition of primary authorship of the narrators. Meanwhile, just the interaction of students with the people whose lives they're trying to study, and their joint effort with communities to produce authentic material from the field, is also a powerful source of learning. It’s already happening on PARI.
There's another thing: each year, countless students produce valuable output on India. In the form of research papers, articles, videos, documentaries, magazines, photographs and more. Excellent though some of this material is, it mostly disappears into departmental libraries, exam paper cupboards or the uncharted cemeteries of cyberspace. But for institutions that link up with us, PARI offers a platform that will preserve, even showcase, the best of that output and make it accessible and easy to view from anywhere in the world. In turn, knowing that their work can be viewed across the globe would be an incentive for students to raise the level and quality of their work.
A one-stop library for researchers
Besides this, there are students in universities, colleges and high schools working on text articles, audio and video, independently of their course work, for PARI. Some very young students have even produced newspapers for us.
And in our Resources section, we aim to put up (in full text and not just via links), all official (and unofficial but credible) reports related to rural India. For instance, every report of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, reports of the Planning Commission (now NITI Aayog) and ministries, the United Nations and much more. Researchers will not have to surf multiple sites to access important documents and studies from different sources.
PARI is a one-stop library for students, teachers and all other learners.