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Face-to-Face Learning Is The Most Preferred Mode

Janat Shah, Director, IIM Udaipur, talks of the significance of classroom teaching and the ways in which the institute adapted the hybrid learning system, in interaction with BW Businessworld.

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Janat Shah, Director, IIM Udaipur,  talks of the significance of classroom teaching and the ways in which the institute adapted the hybrid learning system, in an interaction with BW Businessworld. 

Edited Excerpts:

Has the changing business landscape warranted a new orientation?

The past two years have been quite tricky.  Meanwhile, trends of going digital within industries have accelerated at a pace that, until recently, was unimaginable; changes that otherwise might have taken a decade, happened in months instead. As an institute, we anticipated this issue much before the pandemic. We have set up a digital enterprise management centre and launched a one-year MBA in digital enterprise management. We have also introduced digital technology and analytics-related courses in all our programmes, including our flagship two-year MBA. Our faculty colleagues have identified digital as a central theme for research.  We believe we as an institute, are ready for the coming decade in which many businesses are going to get disrupted. More recently, many industries have turned their attention to return and recovery. Business leaders are now thinking more about long-term strategic moves, particularly as the ‘next to normal’ looks practically different from the future they had been planning for at the start of 2020.

How has your institution coped with this challenge?

With the challenges of a recovering economy and a post-Covid world, we have our vision 2030 in place with two focused areas, student transformation and high-quality research, to build on the proud legacy laid over the past years. We aim to make our institute a globally recognised management school by 2030. As we advance, we want to continue to break new ground by focusing on all the facets to achieve this vision. We have set up task forces involving board and faculty members to work on a detailed plan for various aspects of the vision. We now have a vision owned by our board, faculty, alumni and staff equally.

How are you implementing hybrid learning? What are the steps being taken to upgrade and reskill faculties?

We have been building our physical infrastructure and embracing technology to deliver the education comparable, if not better, to enhance the learning experience of our students. Our faculty underwent training on hybrid teaching and even adapted the curriculum to suit this format – case study methods, evaluation techniques, student participation and knowledge assimilation were all re-assessed for their fitments. Our two classrooms have been fully built-up with a complete hybrid set-up as required. We have invested decisively in advancing our infrastructure with our existing connectivity.

We have been conducting all our activities in a hybrid mode now. We have started refurbishing five more classrooms to prepare them from a hybrid technology perspective, and the same should be prepared by 2022. We have been organising training programmes for our faculty to be trained for hybrid teaching alike last year, where we organised sessions on preparing our faculty to teach online. Because we believe face-to-face classroom learning with some students studying online is far better than pure online learning, we also engaged deeply with our students and took feedbacks to handle hybrid learning confidently and implement it more efficiently. We wish things go back to normal because, for high-quality management education, face-to-face learning is the most preferred mode.

How are you collaborating with industries for internships and placements?

The industry collaboration for internships and placements at IIM Udaipur has always been an integral part of our overall philosophy of management education. As per the early trends for the ongoing internships and placements, we have witnessed several new recruiters amongst the regularly participating industries. The IIMU’s exceptional internship and final placement record is a testimony to the confidence that the corporate world has bestowed on our academic rigour and professional outlook.

The IIMU’s corporate partnerships have strengthened in the past years. We have also expanded our placement team by bringing in sectoral focus. Our focus on digital also helped us create a distinct identity for ourselves. It has helped students bag diverse roles in many renowned companies. We will continue to focus on academic superiority, with improved placements being a byproduct of our focus on academic excellence.

Can EdTechs play a role in management education?

For a premier management education institution like ours, campus-based face-to-face learning would be the dominant mode of education. Of course, we would enhance the quality of  learning using technology. For tier-II and tier-III institutions, which are currently in significant numbers in our country, I think Covid-19 has opened up an exciting set of ideas. Now, their biggest challenge has been getting an excellent faculty to deliver a talk. Using EdTechs, institutions like these will get various online resources to find the best faculties in India or the world from the content perspective, bringing a process-focused faculty who can generate discussion once the faculty deliver the content in virtual mode. It will help tier-II and tier-III institutions enhance the quality of experience of management education. Using EdTechs and the right approach towards hiring a faculty, they can reasonably deliver high-quality management education to their students.

Have government initiatives and programmes impacted business schools?

In general, we are an autonomous institution with supervision from the Board of Governors handling our day-to-day operations. According to the Indian Institutes of Management Act 2017, all IIMs have become autonomous bodies of national importance. We now have much leeway to decide our courses, fees and other related management decisions. However, the New Education Policy introduced by the governemnt is progressive and shall have a long-term impact on higher education.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Janat Shah

The author is Director, IIM Udaipur

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