A Positive psychology toolkit for your virtual semester

On a Tuesday afternoon class on July 15th, I watched my students stare at the whiteboard during an online class without “BLINKING”. While all of them had a vast opportunity to make connections with each other in a class of thirty, half of them were looking for connections on their cell phones, scrolling tirelessly through their feeds while the other half sat there distracted.

I realized it was time for feedback. There was undoubtedly something about my pedagogy that was not working, despite how hard I tried to make it work. After one big session of qualitative feedback and discussions, we concluded that the students were not bored because of the ‘teaching style’ or the ‘curriculum’ but because they were so tired of missing out on the “college experience.” To put it differently, a consistent lack of human touch from a young student’s life in a socially distant and virtual system had started becoming a serious concern, and not many of us were/are talking about it.

Therefore, here I am with some hand-picked tools from the pool of “Positive Psychology” to activate the offline experience in an online setting:

Tool 1: Unprecedented engagement through a Mind-Body connection

The attention span during an online session is way less than an offline session. Multiple distractions are at play, and it becomes a necessity to increase the levels of student engagement. While brainstorming and mentally stimulating activities can enhance this engagement, I recommend here also include certain tasks that enable movement and demand the brain and body to work together.  Simple techniques like an online scavenger hunt, stretching in the chair, looking for a suitable example around the house or having a sip of water can restore the mind-body connection, refresh the minds of the students and enhance their attention spans.

Tool 2: Emotional experience and emotional expression

One thing that made college interesting was the unpredictable range of emotions. One never knew that at what moment they will end up being excited, nervous, happy, sad, surprised, humoured or anything else. However, what really added meaning to those emotional experiences was your ability to express and share them with your mates. Some good ways to go about it is by interacting in a video mode, using self-reflection exercises, experience sharing and including elements of surprise during a class session.

Tool 3: Social Relationships

College years have always been fruitful in the development of social skills and social confidence. Hanging out with friends, socializing in college clubs, inter-college competitions, events or maybe something as simple as a group study could add a charm to the boring week. Well! The good news is that you can still do all of it in an online setup. Some ways would include running virtual clubs, singing a group song, a jam session, surprise birthdays, hosting a watch party or a virtual dinner with your classmates from the comfort of your homes. These small ways can help boost your social relationships while adding a more personal touch to them.

Tool 4: Savouring and Avoiding kill-joy thinking

The pandemic has been tough, and it has been challenging for all of us. At some point, it just becomes important for us to cultivate a sense of optimism and savour what we have till we have it. One essential key to this process is to stop devaluating or underestimating a positive virtual experience by only focusing on its imperfections. Instead, look at the bright side and savour your virtual semester.

Last but not least, Tool 5: Mindfulness

‘Mindfulness’ or ‘being present in the present has become part and parcel of life during COVID years. The same can be incorporated into the virtual classroom to help students relax and focus better. A number of techniques can be used in a virtual setting like breathing exercises, a pre-recorded guided meditation, imagery, or mindful photography. These simple methods can go a long way in enabling the student to be more rooted in the present.

That’s all, folks! I hope you enjoyed reading through these tools, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on using them to enhance learning and engagement. Let us know of more such tools in the comments below!

Digital Transformation in Design Education

The current scenario we are in, change has become the only constant. Designers have always been known as early adaptors and change makers. The sudden paradigm shift in the way lifestyle, health and economic scenarios are building, designers require to evaluate the current health situation is bringing to light problems, changes and opportunities for the industries that make us wonder what is truly important and what is needed to readjust to the new normal. The need to have more designers in the industry to bring out the change has made many educational institutions put more emphasis on design integrated thinking. Management uses fields of design with tools like critical & design thinking, whereas technology is ready to embed and explore design experiences which incorporate the new normal.

Today’s ‘New Normal’ reality is set in motion by the age of global consumption, data mapping and artificial intelligence. As a result, designers needed with updated toolkits to respond to these new conditions. IILM University sees education as a responsibility to equip students with set of tools to understand the contemporary condition and allow for the emergence of new types of multidisciplinary design practices. Speculative design understanding is not supplemental to the serious work of remaking the society, but essential to its responsibilities in a moment of change and uncertainty.

The impact on global wellness and the economy has forced organizations in every industry to flex and evolve, both in real-time and in the long-term. The curriculum we design is a  collection of ideas, thoughts, and strategies, to explore how design can play a role in making the world a healthier place, a successful and forward looking careers that are purposeful and immune to the changing world.

Image Credit: Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Let’s talk about how design education can build an optimistic & equitable Future.

Crisis give birth to creative problem solving. Education has reacted in real-time to the pandemic, addressing tactical challenges of shifting entire campuses online overnight, with innovation and sonic speed. In the process, however, systemic challenges and disparities have been exacerbated. By its nature, learning from home depends on access to technology and Wi-Fi, but on home environment, family situations, and emotional stability for learning.

Keeping in view, Design education at IILM focus on creating learning spaces, whether physical or virtual, that empower every student & faculty equally to create new ventures to exchange the power of knowledge and knowhow. National Education Policy is navigating the strategy of varying degrees, exit points developing an infinite number of scenarios that students can design through, resources, socio-economic landscape, infrastructure, and purpose.

How can we take what we have learned during this time to impart positive change on our future to ultimately shape healthier, wiser, and more equitable communities?

Pandemic is not a change agent, but an accelerant for addressing some fundamental issues for education.

Image: Photo by Gaberiel Benois on Unsplash

A vision for a adaptable & equitable future

The core to the future of learning is learner-centred design, which implies a major repositioning of the learner, the role of the educator, and the environments we design.

Blended Learning is the key

We have been slow at adoption of alternative technologies and pedagogies as human resistance to change. The immediate shift to virtual learning that schools and universities across the world had to make, nearly overnight, has granted us an enlightened perspective. Educational Institutions  need to find new ways to address the needs of every student. The demand for more engaged learning will accelerate new digital platforms, better equipping students to craft their own learning map and future.

Our each program combines hybrid and remote instruction using real world and social emotional learning. The program combines hybrid learning, real world learning, and social-emotional learning to “learning with a purpose.”

Gensler reports that Scott Galloway predicts that online learning and digital platforms will only continue to expand as universities navigate the indirect financial impacts of the pandemic. A focus on the student experience will double-down on the interplay between virtual and physical space. But it’s also critical to address inequities in remote learning, such as disparate access to technology, in order to ensure that digital and physical classroom environments are accessible for all learners.

Learning with a purpose, community & place development

During this pandemic big question has raised on online learning, called into question the need for a physical campus and generated much speculation as to whether the campus would cease to exist. While transitioning to virtual learning has proven successful for some students and for some types of course material, hands-on learning, soft skills, and connection to classmates and course material have been more difficult to translate to learning  online. Many schools and institutions saw the pandemic actually elevate the importance of human interaction, further underscoring place and community as a core value proposition.

Essential to campus experience, the value-add of space and community will evolve in near future. Just as creative environments will employ hybrid solutions for learning, so will student life, dining, housing, and recreation as they seek to engender culture and community. The campus here derives student experience increasingly combining digital platforms with physical space, also reprioritize on-campus activities for “highest and best” use of social and interactive space.

Encourage interdisciplinary approaches.

For nearly a decade, culture of innovation has held its place of importance — both inside and outside of the classroom. This urgency to transcend silos has changed the way departments solve problems both academically and administratively, and the pandemic has only heightened that trajectory.

Now campus assembles core planning teams, championed by senior leadership, that cut across disciplines to produce comprehensive solutions for immediate and near-term plans. The ability to solve challenges that have emerged from the pandemic will foster a lasting interdisciplinary mindset.

Our Campus develops enhanced infrastructures of technology and services Additionally, new career paths continue to emerge out of this need to collaborate in uncharted ways. To support the integrated thinking process and spur intrinsically-driven motivation in students, the spaces we design continue to provide a level of diversity, multimodality, and flexibility.

Turning campus into synergy spaces to build new processes

Connections made beyond the campus through partnerships with local business, government, and community makes learning resonant. With the pandemic, such connections are identified as essential for operations survival. As public and civic entities form new alliances between industry, technology, and education as a way of plotting the course to reopening, imagine what could happen if these alliances stayed together to solve problems going forward.

 

How has the COVID-19 pandemic left the poor even farther behind?

In light of the economic downturn our world has been facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be more than considered the biggest and worst economic calamity post the Great Depression. According to the IMF, the global economy was expected to grow 3 percent in January 2020, but instead, it is now estimated to fall 3 percent, which can be assumed to be way worse than during the period of the Great Recession in 2008-09. If the pandemics in the past are to be analyzed, they have more adversely affected the poor and downtrodden section in comparison to the upper class. Leading economists worldwide have stated the COVID-19 pandemic will create a further economic divide between the rich and poor, leading to unforeseen inequality. Furthermore, it has been observed that pandemics have augmented unemployment and inequality more for low-skilled workers or people with basic education than people with advanced degrees.

Migrant and daily wage labourers have suffered severely due to the pandemic after a nationwide lockdown was announced in March 2020. The ultra-rich population of India has successfully managed to keep themselves away from harm’s way, but the low-income families have been facing the brunt of the crisis as they are forced to deal with the pandemic with limited or no resources. According to research conducted in January 2020, India’s richest 1 percent were accounted to have held more than four times the wealth held by 953 million people who made up the bottom 70 percent of the nation’s population. Therefore, upcoming government policies to uplift the nation’s economy needs to particularly focus on preventing a long-term dent in the livelihoods of the poor and disadvantaged section of the society. A stronger public healthcare system is one of the most important demands in the current situation, but unemployment benefits, boosting public work programs to present job opportunities, providing financing opportunities to sustain employment, and progressive tax measures can provide a cushioning effect for the poorer segment of our society which has been reeling under effects of the pandemic. Thus, our policymakers must take up this opportunity to introduce the changes as mentioned above to the teeth to protect their most vulnerable from any such further calamities.

Great Management Apps for Small Business Owners

In today’s time we all have different goals or resolutions as individuals. If it is to read more, think less or finally taking some time off. Apart from personal aspirations, we might have some for our businesses too. And we probably wish to get things faster, better and more efficient. Small business owners sometimes need to do many things by themselves, and it can be hard to manage. The good part is that now there are a bunch of applications and tools designed to help these small businesses. These apps can be operated by anyone with a motive of easy to use, affordable, no-commitment plans, good customer service, and good returns.

We provide you with a list of such best small business applications for 2021. The categories defined by us for these apps are ones necessary for business as per functions. Let us have a look at these applications.

QuickBooks

When it is a talk about money, depending on one’s business models, there can be a lot of paperwork. Managing and tracking money can be a tall order, but fortunately, you have QuickBooks. It is the most popular accounting software on the market as it efficiently manages your business needs irrespective of the size of the business. QuickBooks can track expenses, create and send forms (such as quotes, invoices, statements etc.). It  makes you understand where the cash flow stands and helps you with tax as well. A cloud-based software which offers numerous integrations.

Alternative to QuickBooks: FreshBooks, Wave, Sage business cloud accounting.

Gusto

Formerly known as ZenPayroll, easy to understand by name, is an HR app you might consider for full-service payroll. It makes the payroll process more accessible than ever before. It takes care of all onboarding paperwork, managing payroll and benefits, file payroll taxes, trackside days and vacation time and more.

Alternative to Gusto: Toggl, Teamdeck

Trello

It can be termed an app for project management or team & task management that helps keep track of tasks. It makes it easier for teams to collaborate by creating individual tasks or various for team members to complete. Within each step, one can assign due dates, tag others, create a checklist, and upload documents. It offers different integrations such as EverNote, Slack and even Google drive.

Alternative to Trello: Asara, Basecamp, Airtable

Square

It does not matter where you sell; if you need an all-in-one payment system, Square is your choice. You have likely heard of it as this POS provider which has changed the world of small business apps. It is an excellent affordable, and accessible set-up option that has improved the credit & debit card transactions with an easy option to build a custom solution also for each business. Square is best for low-volume merchants that work in low-risk industries.

Alternative to Square: PayPal, QuickBooks, Lightspeed, Shopify

SOS

Inventory tracking is an integral part of any business. SOS inventory is designed to make inventory tracking, order management and manufacturing easier. The best part is that this app can sync easily with QuickBooks and Shopify. One can easily manage inventory in more than one business location by tracking your item and hence giving different attributes to differentiate.

Alternative to SOS: Delivrd, Sortly

Salesforce

It perhaps is one of the most prominent and most widely used CRM software on the market. Many small and big businesses use it worldwide, but the smaller businesses use lightning essentials, a basic edition of the same app. So this platform allows you to track and manage customer profiles across departments, make personalized marketing plans, respond to customer issues, and so much more.

Alternative to Salesforce: Spendgo, Belly, Nimble

We have listed the most famous and preferred small business apps above, and we know the usage of any of these will make your workday better. After all, there is basically an app for everything.

COLLEGE FEES, NO LONGER A BURDEN DURING PANDEMIC

Living in the age of competition makes everyone choose the best. While choosing the best, we also need to protect our financial pockets, especially during the pandemic when it is in the most vulnerable situation. During this time getting admission, for a professional course like Law in a good college will scar the pockets a little more. A college that caters to this need of the people is the need of the hour. To fulfil this need, IILM takes a step forward and offers numerous scholarships. It offers specific scholarships to meritorious students who have obtained good results in CLAT or LSAT. A scholarship of 20% is awarded if a student scores 100 and above in CLAT, and a scholarship of 30% is awarded if a score of 455 and above is obtained in LSAT. In addition to this IILM, understands payment of fees in one go will be difficult during this time, therefore relaxes the payment of fees for the Law programmes, including BA LLB and BBA LLB. The Registration fees, which most candidates see as a huge burden on their pockets, is relaxed from Rs. 90000 to Rs. 25000, and the fee payment of the first year is divided into three instalments. These steps are taken to ensure that higher education is not compromised during the pandemic.

Experiential Learning Through Summer Internships

Summer Internships are an admirable way to start building a sturdy foundation for a successful career path. IILM University provides students with numerous such opportunities to work with NGOs and Corporates in order to enhance their experiential learning experience. Students get a chance to have an incredible experience by working directly with the companies.

Below mentioned is one of such experiences felt by our undergraduate student named Harshit Sultania, BBA 2019 Batch, when he got an opportunity to work with an NGO called Seva Bharti Foundation to fulfill his role as a responsible citizen. We all think of doing something good for society and hope for that little opportunity that would create a little difference in someone’s life.

That opportunity was given to the students by IILM University through an internship initiative to work with the Seva Bharti Foundation. This program gave students a chance to help the unprivileged group of students. The program was for six weeks and every week they used to spend at least two hours with our buddy via telephonic or video calls.

In Harshit’s words – “I was very much excited about the concept of helping and guiding students. Because obviously! it’s the student who knows best about the student. They know what and how to talk and what exactly to work on. All of us were allocated one student each from Seva Bharti Foundation with whom we talked about their career and other concerns as their buddy mentors.

I was lucky to get the opportunity to be the student coordinator for the program where my job was to ensure the smooth coordination between the students and their buddies. And similarly, a few other students were also made student coordinators and each coordinator got ten students to supervise and help in the smooth functioning of the program. With much enthusiasm, I started with week one by getting connected with my students. I explained every detail about the whole program to everyone individually. Initially, it was difficult to motivate the underprivileged students to continue the program, but with little more effort, I started getting the result.

As from week two, things finally started to move in the right direction and students started talking about their career goals, living conditions, and other areas of interest. I tried my best to mentor and guide them in the right direction making them aware of the kind of additional online courses they can do to enhance their learning. I managed to listen to their concerns patiently and help them in whatever way I could.

Students also were coordinating well with their buddies and started to share their awesome experiences with us. And at the end of every week, I had to send a weekly report covering all the aspects discussed. Time flies really quickly just like those six weeks. But yes, I have to accept that I learned a lot from the student coordinator job. I learned how to talk to people and motivate them to come forward with their concerns in a professional way. I learned how to solve issues in a proficient manner and most importantly I learned how to manage things in an efficient way”.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my thankfulness to the IILM University, without them this whole journey would not have existed in the first place. It helped me in knowing more about the lives of underprivileged students and gave me a platform to help them in whatever little way I was able to manage. I am pleased to share that it certainly added value to my learnings and my journey with Seva Bharti Foundation concluded with a happy ending” – Harshit Sultania.


Dr. Rachna Madaan

An Ideal Law School

The question that most frequently crosses our mind while selecting a college to pursue our higher education in law is what we need and what they offer? An ideal Law college should be a paradise land offering a mock of the entire life ahead of every budding lawyer. It is paramount to understand that a lawyer is not only the one who practices the law. Instead, a lawyer is expected to preach its values and propagate them in society. This brings us to the foremost value every budding lawyer searches for in a law school, the quality of being able to be good. Law school should focus on the speaking abilities of every law student, even of the ones sitting in the corner of the class. To polish this skill, law school should regularly engage their students in moot court competitions, panel discussions, debates, and classroom interactions. The use of these practices makes the students confident to face the world with much ease.

The second virtue a law college should offer is the opportunity to let the young minds speak, write and publish. An ideal law school is the one that pushes all its students to contribute towards the law journals of the college and also help them build up their research skills to enable them to publish their works in other journals. The next essential trait a law student looks for in a law college is its ability to offer internships and placement opportunities. Law school should also focus on co-curricular activities apart from the regular law classes, which will ensure the student’s overall growth. For the overall growth of students, the students should be able to stay in touch with their teachers even beyond the classroom and college years. The professors and mentors should establish healthy relations with the students or a system that offers continuous mentoring of the students by following some unique mentor-mentee system. In addition to this, any law school that follows the Socratic method of teaching will raise the more analytical and intellectual lawyers. That involves complete participation of the student in the learning process, whereby he gets the freedom to ask questions and the confidence to raise his voice.

So an ideal law school should follow a student-centric approach, keeping in mind that a law student is not made a lawyer only by reading the books, instead what he experiences through out the law school. A student becomes a lawyer with all the experiences he/she shares with his/her fellow students and mentors at the law school.

 

 

The Free Speech Crisis

The Indian government in the last two years have continually made international headlines for its strong curbs on the freedom of speech jeopardizing the very essence of Indian democracy. Whether it has been strong arming the Twitter into removing tweets critical of the Prime Ministers Covid response or arrest of twenty two year old activist for mobilizing support for the farmers protests or the multiple arrests and FIR s against journalists for reporting the plight of daily labourers during the 2020 lockdown and also on the massive deaths during the second wave of Covid or charging student protesters protesting against the CAA under the UAPA, this systematic crackdown on freedom of speech and expression in the name of national security has been the order of recent times. Censorship on one’s speech is freedom lost forever and such blatant attacks on free speech and social media censorship is an anathema to the free and democratic society that the Indian Constitution guarantees its citizens.

The regular use of the draconian UAPA and the NSA to crush dissent in any form has become a dangerous trend setter and the existing legal system is the only respite that one can turn to for the protection of their fundamental right. Though we must continue to fight for freedom of speech and expression, at the same time we have to be careful not to advocate them at the cost of stifling the voices of minorities, as is seen in developed democracies where free speech is equated with absolute speech as it has become a tool to normalize hate speech.

The question however remains is whether the world’s largest democracy will realize soon enough the seriousness of the impositions and curbs that are being laid on its citizens freedom of expression through unnecessary crackdown on journalists and students, through Internet shutdowns and through social media restrictions and put an end to this authoritative stand by making safeguarding of human rights and freedom it’s top most priority.

The Challenges faced by Finance Industry

The Finance Industry features a huge role to play when it involves making business purposeful. This sector currently faces multiple challenges, but the two most prominent ones are information asymmetry and financial illiteracy. The cutthroat competition within the industry has led to several institutions flouting norms. Wells Fargo may be a case in point wherein the culture and unsustainable targets led to employees committing fraud and the senior management turning a blind eye, therefore, enabling the act. Another even more potent example is that the concealment by HSBC in Mexico and Colombia for Drug Cartels. In both these cases, the institutions were excused by just paying fines, which was nothing more than seven days of profits for them. These institutions know that they are too big and influential to be jailed because they are too big to fail and thus can escape perhaps with the foremost notorious and irresponsible behaviours.

Definitely, the planet is ill-equipped to handle another Lehman Brothers, but that does not mean that the planet should need to see thousands of people being killed by the drug cartels that these institutions use to move their money. To prevent these and bring justice to already what has been done wrong, these firms should be held accountable, and therefore the CEO should be held liable for the actions of the institution.

As we steel ourselves against a post-Covid-19 economy, the long term of the finance industry looks drastically different. Additionally, to the changes within the way banking would be conducted, which is about to become highly digitized, monetary institutions’ role is also going to change. The whole world is looking ahead at an enormous recession. These institutions would need to be the first source of liquidity to the firms, which might stimulate demand within the economy

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/five-ways-that-esg-creates-value
https://www.ceres.org/sites/default/files/reports/2019-04/Investor_Influence_report.pdf
Edmans, A. (2011). Does the stock market fully value intangibles? Employee satisfaction and equity prices. Journal of Financial Economics.
Edmans, A. (2015). The social responsibility of business. TEDx London Business School. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5KZhm19EO0.
Gartenberg, C. (2018). Corporate Purpose and Financial Performance. Organization Science, Forthcoming.
Edmans, A. (2019). How great companies deliver both purpose and profit. London Business School. Available at https://www.london.edu/think/how-great-companies-deliver-both-purpose-and-profit.
Edmans, A. (2020). Does Pieconomics Work?: from ‘Grow the Pie: How Great Companies Deliver Both Purpose and Profit (pp. 77-96).
https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/five-ways-that-esg-creates-value
https://www.fintechmagazine.com/fintech/deloitte-how-financial-services-responding-covid-19
Robert J. Rhee (2017). A Legal Theory of Shareholder Primacy

Being an Ally to the LGBTQ+ People

The 21st century has brought a lot of changes in the world, ranging from technology and science to reformation in societal norms and stigmas. The LGBTQ+ has been one such aspect that has created some stir worldwide. However, the LGBTQ+ community needs more and more allies to feel accepted and comfortable. Such allies can be instrumental in raising the effective and powerful voices for LGBTQ+ equality and aid them in coming out in their respective society and help others realize the vitality of equality and unbiased behavior for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Most of the LGBTQ+ community members decide to come out for the first time when they are in high school or university. There is no full-proof or single way to be a perfect ally, but one can practice the multiple ways to be a more supportive teacher, mentor, friend, parent, or colleague. You can start by being open to learn, listen and educate yourself, which involves knowing the difference between sex and gender and keep yourself updated on LGBTQ+-related news and issues. Secondly, you need to start speaking up or confronting people when you hear offensive or anti-LGBTQ+ comments and let your friends, family, and co-workers know that you find them offensive and degrading.

Thirdly, stop making assumptions that all your friends, co-workers, or relatives are straight as someone you know could be looking for some support in their coming-out process, and such assumptions can meddle with space and comfort they might have anticipated. Fourthly, understand that language matters, and if you’re not sure of someone’s pronoun or label, just ask them respectfully. And, lastly don’t hesitate to apologize when you mess up or assume someone’s sexual orientation and ask for guidance which will be appreciated.

In addition, being a good queer ally begins with taking a step back and listening to the people you want to help. The LGBTQ+ people are well aware of how to liberate themselves. Therefore, by truly centering their voices, the non-queer folks can provide an allyship that will have the power to promote real and lasting change.