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“Classroom teaching can only be replicated using technology”

In an exclusive conversation with BW Businessworld’s Prarthana Banerjee, IIM Raipur’s Director Bharat Bhasker talks about the importance of classroom teaching and stresses that it can only be replicated by using technology, among other things. Excerpts

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Where do you think the education industry is heading, and what sort of measures are being taken up by the B-schools in response to the crisis arising out of Covid-19?

The technological revolution has already been on, and every industry worldwide has been going through changes since the year 2010. In India, since 2014-15, especially after the government came up with the strategy of going digital, it has become imperative for all industries to be efficient and get comfortable with the digital economy. Adoption of technology was happening at its own decent pace because human beings take time to change, and adapt to new things. So, the process was happening at its own pace and Covid created an unprecedented situation. Suddenly we were locked inside our houses, but the business had to go on and the only way to keep going was through networked platforms, especially businesses that could be transliterated or transformed into digital format began to be accelerated. 

The education sector is where adaptation was happening already, which is not a new thing. The project that India started in 2000 can be highlighted as an example, which is tele-enabled learning. The idea was to enhance the quality of education and quality of teachers by the higher institutions so that education could reach the masses. Following the Covid outbreak, one of the impact I feel is going to be the democratisation of education. Access to high-quality education has so far been limited to people who could get through the intense competition. So post-Covid, this one impact will be permanent in nature. 

Campus experience not only enhances the educational experience of the students, but also plays a major role in the teaching-learning process. How will the campus experience be replicated in the online world?

I would like to highlight two things: one, if I talk about any MBA , flagship or PGP programme, even though they do require ‘beyond the class’ human interaction, but meanwhile, in the process we are learning about using technology in the right mix. A great deal of the classroom and human interaction can be replicated, but cannot be replaced. The replication will require us to move the classroom experience, as well as require teachers to have backend channels where all kind of interactions can happen including student-to-student, student-to-teacher, and also student-to-associate. 

The second point that needs to be highlighted is that in a growing economy like India where education is not accessible to many and is supposed to grow with a digital revolution, we will require thousands of managers which even great institutions like the IIMs will not be able to train. That’s why, we and many other good institutions are launching e-MBA programmes where working executives can attend the classes in the evening and augment their managerial skills.

What sort of changes will the teaching and selection process undergo in the next five years?

Premium institutions are coming up with different programmes for the upcoming sessions, and the mode of conduct will be hybrid. The selection process might be different because we do not intend to start with an unlimited number of people, but the potential of growth will not be limited by the hostels. Hence, our economy will not be hamstrung by the shortage of good and well-trained management institutions. 

The pandemic has brought about a lot of changes due to which educational institutions are coming up with medium and long-term solutions allowing flexibility, recovery, and improvement of the education system which will be evident in the coming years.