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Education Democratised With the Opening of the Digital Sector: Prof. Shailendra Singh Director, IIM – Ranchi

The digital education sector was open much before the pandemic. Many premiere Institutions like IITs and IIMs were already using the digital education platforms to deliver online certificate programs.

Education Post07 February 2022 07:31

Education Democratised With the Opening of the Digital Sector: Prof. Shailendra Singh Director, IIM – Ranchi

Prof. Shailendra Singh earned MA in Psychology from the University of Allahabad and Ph.D. in Organizational Behaviour from IIT Kanpur. He has more than 34 years of post Ph.D. research & teaching experience. He also has a vast and varied experience in training, administration and consultancy. Prof. Singh was the Dean (Research) and a Senior Professor in the area of Human Resource Management at Indian Institute of Management Lucknow. He has also served as the President (2013-14) and has been elected as a Fellow (2018) of National Academy of Psychology India.

With opening up of the digital education sector during the pandemic, how has the possibility of learning from international institutes improved for students?

The digital education sector was open much before the pandemic. Many premiere Institutions like IITs and IIMs were already using the digital education platforms to deliver online certificate programs. IIM Lucknow had collaboration with NIIT and Reliance to deliver online courses. Yes, after pandemic many more platforms have come up. Digital learning can be of two kinds: synchronous and asynchronous. In synchronous system, students and teachers are present in real-time mediated by a computer. Online classes where teachers is available to respond to the questions of students and provide feedback to students on their solutions.

Asynchronous classes happen where teachers recorded lecture are available on predefined topic but the teacher is not available to respond to students’ queries. To overcome this problem, sometimes teachers organize live chat sessions.

With the opening the digital education sector, education is democratised. All kinds of students have exposure to online learning. And now international faculty can be invited to deliver lectures in Indian classrooms and vice-versa. More online degree, diploma and certificate   programmes have been started by International Universities with  pocket friendly budgets which even a middle class student can afford.

However, let me state that the digital education cannot fully substitute face to face education as learning in face to face classes is having media richness and relational advantage. Further, we require very stable and reliable internet connectivity to get full benefit on online digital classes. The best use of  the digital educational platform is for busy executives or students who can’t be present for very long in face to face classes due to various reasons, they attend initial classes physically and rest of the classes in online mode. Definitely online/ digital platforms have proved as a boon when movement was totally restricted.

Experiential learning is a dominant concept now, right from the stage of elementary education. How do you implement it at the higher education levels consistently?

Experiential learning is in thing now, but the same has a very ancient origin. Panchatantra is the book which taught Rajputras through stories. Dronacharya’s Gurukula also imparted learning by doing.

According Confucius, “What I hear I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do I know.” Thus, learning by doing is the most fundamental process of learning. Internship, practical work experience, simulation etc. are being used to generate learning of a subject or concept following the same philosophical underpinning.

According to an experiential learning theorist David Kolb, people have different learning styles. He talked about four learning styles: Concrete experience, Reflective Observations, Abstract Conceptualization and Active Experimentation. These four learning styles are  generated based on contrasting two dimensions: abstract vs concrete and active vs reflective. Persons who learn from concrete observations may be Police, Journalist etc. Similarly, Abstract Conceptualization may be done by scientists and mathematicians.   Reflective Observation may be done by psephologist and Active Experimentation my be done by those who are trying to change and improve the situation. We are mix of all the styles, but some styles may more dominant than the others and dominant learning style may be our primary style   of learning. It is suggested that teachers delivery methods should be such that it suits  to the need every learner.

Management education has always been on the forefront of participants centred learning. Harvard Business School has mastered case method of teaching. IIM Ahmedabad received the training in case method of teaching from Harvard Business School. IIMA replicated the model of teaching in India. Business schools in India who subscribe to HBS Cases are also being trained HBS faculty. Now multiple business schools are offering case method teaching and case writing workshops. Apart from case, management game and computer-based simulations are being used for student engagement and learning.

Other experiential pedagogies successfully used in management education are : team-based learning or Training Group learning, Role plays, instrument based survey and feedback; real time case study projects, blogs etc. these are also successfully used apart from traditional lectures and dialogues sessions.  In business schools, ownership of learning is with the participants and  faculty is entrusted with role of facilitation of learning.

You have served long tenure at IIM Lucknow, at various positions. How has the institute developed over the past 2 decades?

IIM Lucknow is a great organization. Established in 1984 when Sheila Kaul was Minister of State for Culture, Education and Social Welfare Independent charge at the Centre and also represented Lucknow Lok Sabha Constituency. The first director Prof Ishwar Dayal established the strong work culture and work ethic. Initial staff was highly committed and were ready to go beyond the call of duty whenever the Institute required their services. The committed faculty, motivated staff, brilliant students, influential and supportive alumni, support and guidance of the Board of Governors, shaped the IIML as it stands today.

IIM L started its doctoral programme (FPM) in the year 2000.  In the year 2005 IIML  took bold initiative to start its second campus in NOIDA, Uttar Pradesh and became the first IIM to have its second campus. Prof P. Singh an excellent trainer himself gave acceleration to the executive education activities. NOIDA Campus was his brainchild. He wanted to exploit the executive education business of National Capital Region through NOIDA campus of IIML. Now IIML has 20 acres fully operational campus housing multiple executive programmes like Post Graduate Programme for Working Executive (WMP), International Programme for Executives (IPMX) and Executive FPM. It also has a full time Post Graduate Programme in Sustainability Management (PG-SM)

Academic curricula are delivered through 11 interdisciplinary areas namely, Business environment, Communication, Decision sciences, Finance and accounting, Marketing, Human resource management, Operations management, Information technology and systems, Strategic management, Agribusiness management and Legal Management. Rich pedagogies are employed including but not limited to cases, projects, simulations role plays, business games lecture -cum-discussions, movies and experiential exercises.

IIML over the years has emphasized internationalization and International accreditation. As of now IIML has partnership and students exchange MOUs with 24 management Institute/Universities in Europe, USA, Canada , China and Singapore. The Institute also has  dual degree programme arrangement with the ESCP France Europe. Currently, IIML is AACSB and AMBA accredited. EQUIS accreditation is also in advanced stage. IIML with more than 1100 students and close to 100 academic staff maintains a healthy students-teacher ratio.

IIML has also helped the Ministry of Education in the establishing the younger IIMs. IIM Rohtak, IIM Kashipur, and IIM Sirmour have been mentored by IIML. The latest in the list of IIM family, IIM Jammu has also been assigned to IIML for mentoring. In mentoring process, IIML initiated academic processes and did handholding for initiating and running Post Graduate Programme along with recruitment of initial academic and nonteaching staff. Some IIML faculty and staff having long experience also role modelled the functioning of various committee like Admission, Post Graduate Program, Placement, Purchase, Administration, Project etc. Mentoring process also incorporated the culture building role.  I am happy to write that today five of the twenty IIMs are headed IIML professors. This reflects the administrative and governance capability of the Institute.

In my assessment IIML is a dynamic organization which has a great future as it faculty members are   entrepreneurial  and continuously update themselves to remain relevant.

What impact does emotional intelligence have on the academic and professional growth of youngsters nowadays? How can they develop it positively?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is being intelligent with our emotions. EI, is also known as emotional quotient or EQ, is the ability to understand and manage our emotions and the emotions of others.  It can be defined as a set of skills pertaining to accurate appraisal and expression of emotions in oneself and others, effective regulation of emotions in self and others and the use of feelings to motivate, plan, achieve in one’s life. There are many models of EI but most influential one Hay Group model talking about four dimensions of EI namely, Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness and Relationship Management derived through a 2X2 conceptualization namely , Self and Others and Awareness and Management.

The first building block of EI is Self-Awareness. The ultimate aim of EI is to manage relationship. The ultimate goal Relationship Management can be achieved through both routes, through developing Social Awareness  or developing Self-Management. According Goleman who wrote the famous books Emotional Intelligence and Working Emotional Intelligence, that EI is an essential feature in leadership effectiveness. Emotional Intelligence is positively associated with job performance, job satisfaction and health. EI is also associated with high academic achievement. Young people with higher EI have better probability of career success. How EI can be developed.

EI model of Goleman consists 18 subdimensions organized within 4 dimensions:

Figure1: Subdimensions of EI

We learn through practice and feedback. We can also develop EI through practice and feedback. Of course, anything that we want to learn, we need to have some willingness or preparedness for learning. It takes long time to develop EI, but it can learned and honed. People may like to cultivate certain habits to develop EI including develop listening habits, be receptive to feedback, develop system of receiving 360 degree feedback, develop empathy, try to focus on self  and others emotions, attend training programmes focusing on self-awareness and self-management.

A generic EI development programme is given below:

Do you think that there is greater need to study psychological aspects and create a support system for the students and professionals, given the competitive scenarios?

Psychological support system in academic as well professional studies was always needed. With rise of competitiveness and career uncertainty, the same has become more important. Ministry of Education, Government of India has emphasized that students may be provided with counselling support, so that people can get support timely. We envisage multi-tired support systems:

  1. Faculty Mentoring Support System: where a student in need can approach the assigned faculty.
  2. Alumni Mentoring Support system: In this system, if alumni volunteers want to give one hour to their alma matter, then interested alumni can be approached by these students. Buddy system can also be introduced, where buddy can a senior, a junior or a peer who accompanies the focal students. Many times, just by socializing, problems get clarified and pent up emotions get catharsis and issues get resolved.  But these systems of mentoring are not substitute of organized system of counselling and consulting. Institutions should also keep them in place. During pandemic time such psychological support services has become more important as fear and loneliness have become more rampant.

You have interacted with students and academic leaders in leading Indian and international institutes. What are the standards of resources available to students abroad as compared to Indian institutes?

Institutions vary in terms facilities, resources and standards. Our IITs and IIMs and many excellent private universities and institutes have facilities, resources and standards at par with the good institutions in the world.

If our students go abroad, they do well in their academics in these Institutions.  But when it comes to average institutions of our country, then we lag far behind. We need to augment our academic infrastructure, resources including human resources. New National Education Policy is a welcome document, if implemented with sincerity, we may have transformative changes in the education system of India.

What will be the focus areas of growth for IIM Ranchi over the next 5 years?

IIM Ranchi was established on December 15, 2009. We have entered into thirteenth year of existence. In July 2010, we started our journey with 44 students with no diversity. Today we are having more than 1000 students and seven programmes. Five are full time Post Graduate programmes namely, MBA, MBA -HRM, MBA Business Analytics, and a Five Year Integrated Programme in Management (IPM) and Doctoral Program leading to Ph.D. Our executive education programmes include MBA for Executives (PGEXP) and Executive Doctoral Programme leading to E-Ph.D.  Besides these, we have multiple executive education programmes ranging between three days certificate Programme to one year certificate programme.

In the year 2022, we also launching our Journal entitled ‘ IIM Ranchi Journal of Management Studies (IRJMS)’. We have also established centres excellence in following names: 1. Atal Bihari Vajpayee Centre for Leadership, Policy and Governance, 2. Birsa Munda Centre for Tribal Affairs and 3. Rekhi Centre for Excellence in Science of Happiness. We will undertake contextually relevant research and training programmes in the aegis of these centres.

In coming five years our focus areas growth will be:

Research, augmentation of faculty resources, achieving Internationalization and International accreditation for our Academic Programmes and completion of our campus project. 

Research. Any institution of higher learning is known by its researchers and research output. Currently our research is based on faculty guidance of doctoral scholars and from Ph.D. work of newly recruited faculty members. We want to make it broad based where each faculty is doing collaborative and externally funded research. We will also host national and international conferences for exchange and cross-fertilization of ideas.

Apart from peer reviewed journal and conference publications we will be interested in policy research which can influence perspectives of the Government. Our endeavour will also be to strengthen our journal and bring the same into Scopus indexed Journal network.  The Institute will also be funding the  invited scholars having track record of high impact research as Scholar in residence with whom our faculty will learn and collaborate. Also, we will host international scholars visiting India on various scholarships like Fulbright, DAAD, Indo-Canadian Shastri etc. Such initiatives will substantially enrich research ecology of the Institute.

Augmentation of Faculty Resources. Faculty- student ratio is considered one of the important parameters in NIRF ranking. From Institute’s point of view 1:10 is ideal and 1:15 is acceptable. We are trying attract faculty from all over the world. Currently, our faculty represents Ph.D.  and Post-Doctoral training from US, Germany, Japan, Singapore, IIMs, IITs, etc. We are also having special recruitment drive (SRD) to recruit the faculty from reserve categories namely, SC, ST, OBC,PHC, and EWS. We keep on recruiting faculty on rolling basis and gives attractive benefits on research publications and very flexible work culture. This is continuous process but a very crucial input variable for making IIM Ranchi a well-rounded business school.

Internationalization and International Accreditation. To develop global outlook among our students we are providing international exposure through International seminars, webinars and workshops and courses covering international business practices like international Marketing, International HRM, International Finance etc. We also have student exchange arrangements with multiple B-Schools and universities in US, Russia, France, Thailand, South Korea, Greece and Bangladesh. We want expand and enrich this network by adding more countries and business schools.

IIM is a brand in itself. The Government of India has also accorded it, the status Institution of National Importance. Still, we are seeking International Accreditations as it gives us a position in a fraternity of peer reviewed Institutions. IIM Ranchi is having member status in AACSB and EFMD Global. We are also a signatory of UN Global Compact Principles of Responsible Management Education (UNGC PRME). Our endeavour will be complete the processes of AACSB and EFMD in next five years and get accredited. These accreditations also encourage our faculty members to understand the linkages between our activities, processes and outcomes   and will our students and faculty members if they are seeking international opportunities in teaching, higher education, visiting assignment etc.

Completion of Permanent Campus. Thirteenth years is on and we got into our permanent campus. But the journey has been quite challenging.  I joined IIM Ranchi in March 2017 and delivered welcome address in 6th Convocation of IIM Ranch on 6th April 2017 in which Shri T.V. Narendran, M D of Tata Steel was the Chief Guest. Our function was organized in Dr Ram Dayal Munda Auditorium. That day itself I had declared that three years after this, we will have our 9th Convocation in our own permanent campus. That time, the campus construction not even conceptualized. Due to Pandemic things got further derailed. But God help them who help themselves. We got the first building of our permanent campus inaugurated on December 14th, 2020 by Shri Parimal Nathwani Ji who graciously helped us with Rs 13.56 crores from his M P LAD fund.  And our  9th Convocation was organized in our own Auditorium and the Chief Guest was Hon’ble Defence Minister Shri Raj Nath Singh Ji. Work is still going on. We are  in the process of getting possession of 75k Sq metre constructed area housing the buildings of faculty and administrative offices, sixteen class rooms, library, computer centre, director’s house, three hostels, Students Dining, Faculty and Staff housing and a Community Centre. What we still need to get on priority basis  in our campus are : more hostels , guest house, MDP building, more faculty and staff residences, Health Centre, and a   Sports complex. It may take close to two years to get the campus fully complete in all respects.

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