Gnowledge Lab

Gnowledge Lab

An R&D laboratory of HBCSE (Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education), TIFR (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), Mumbai, India. The lab’s focus is on designing and developing discourse based collaborative constructionist learning environoments AKA studios. We also develop, design and distribute information and communication technology for studio based STEM education and share our research and developed material to the rest of the world under Creative Commons license. 


MetaStudio is a platform evolving as an online academy for collaborative learning with a focus on the culture of learning as against content for learning. This platform is being developed and maintained by the Gnowledge Lab

R&D areas of Gnowledge Lab

  • Knowledge Cartography: mapping places, people, their activities, topics and resources
  • Structure and Dynamics of Knowledge
  • Designing Learning Studios that extend beyond classrooms
  • Knowledge Construction in a Functional Social Networking Space
  • The Lab uses hardware, software as well as wetware
    Epistemic Basis: Meaning is a Network
    • We practice experimental  (or naturalized) epistemology
    • We believe that meaning can be mapped as a network, which means, a concept or an action has no independent meaning.  Its meaning is derived by virtue of the linkages it has with other nodes in the network (Structures)
    • Change in network structure will bring in change in its meaning (Dynamics)
    • We are inspired by Piaget, Symour Papert, Quine, Minsky and, most importantly by the makers of the new digital media

    Pedgaogic Principles
    • Making or doing in a functional social networking space (a studio) in contrast to delivery in a class room
    • Constructionism as against instructionism
    • Making learning visible to the learner
    • Supporting continuous self-assessment
    • We are inspired by the makers (called geeks) who are leading the free and open source movement producing hardware & software
    • Our lab is spelt "Gnowledge lab" and not "Knowledge  lab"

    Knowledge cartography
    This is an epistemological experiment: an attempt to seek evidence to a network theory of meaning.
    • For a cartography of places we are fortunate to have latitude, longitude and altitude, BUT
    • For knowledge cartography, we need to first of all find a way to define such dimensions, so that we can navigate in the cognitive space.
    • Our hypothesis is that if we establish a dependency link to every node, we will be able to define the coordinates, there by building the surface map of knowledge
    • As more and more links are added, the nodes can be given an incoming weight (defined as number of incoming nodes) and an outgoing weight (defined as number of outgoing nodes)
    • Since every node will have a unique nighbourhood, its position gets fixed in the map of knowledge.
    • We are in the process of establishing this by actually building a collaborative semantic networking space.

    Making of GNOWSYS
    •  We have built (in our maker's space), by involving students, a network based memory that  can hold nodes, links between nodes, entire history of the construction
    • It is named "Gnowledge Networking and Organizing System" or GNOWSYS for short.
    • This is declared an official project of GNU in 2004.

    Mapping resources and activities
    •  GNOWSYS is used in the making of a large multi-lingual open educational resources (OER) repository launched in August 2013 at
    •  This project is in collaboration with CIET of NCERT, with financial support from Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt of India.
    • GNOWSYS is also being used to map the activities of students of Digital Literacy course.
    •  This project is in collabroation with Tata Institute of Social Sciences.
    •  This platform facilitates the cration of portfolios through regular journaling and recording of actions by students.

    • Semantic Networks
    • Re-representing Concept Mapping
    • Critical Graphicacy
    • Social Construction of Knowledge
    • Socially Situated Learning
    • Mapping Farmer's Knowledge and Skills
    • Mapping Engineer's Knowledge and Skills
    • Biological Roots of Knowledge
    • In a recently published work, with Arnab and Rajiv,we have modeled dependency network of software packages in    an operating system as a complex system. (Complex Systems 2014)
    • Working with Meena, we developed Re-represented Concept Mapping
    • We modified the rules of constructing a concept map to generate a semantic network, so that learners develop rigor.
    • Starting 2006, we have published several papers in this area.
    • The skill to make and read graphs is a neglected area, but a  vital skill for doing science and mathematics.
    • Amit developed studio based activities that collect data and make graphs from every day phenomena as well as abstract dynamic models like geocentric and  heliocentric constructions explaining retrograde motion

    With Arunan we developed an extended studio called CUBE
    • Several undergraduate students from across the country maintain  model organisms and perform experiments in learning, memory and epigenetics.
    • In an ongoing study, Shraddha is uncovering the moments when  knowledge construction happens in this extended studio.
    • Rafikh designed a game in OLPC by modifying an instant messaging application for developing arithmetic skills
    • With Ram Rao we are mapping engineer's knowledge and skills
    • With Rosemary we are mapping Farmer's experiences
    • We have a strong sustained community around the lab with several collaborators both in India and abroad; we are self-reliant with  regard to technical expertize with new digital media
    • Collaborations with high impacting organizations like NCERT, TISS, OER community, Creative Commons, and several FOSS groups in  India and abroad.
    • Strong nexus between big proprietary and commercial carporations and Govt agencies is affecting our ability to promote  participatory and collabrorative spirit of our programs;
    • Not to forget, security is becoming a threat to free society
    • Well, we would like to become an active nodal center for participatory learning and citizen science. 
    • Looking forward to opportunities to expand the lab's activities by involving more researchers, and if possible to build a center  for new media and participatory learning, wich we call as metaStudio. 
    • The team

    Gnowledge Lab Website

    MetaStudio Website  

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