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Paradigm Shift in Higher Education

The unprecedented situation created by the global pandemic has put the spotlight on the education system. Most of the institutions of learning are moving to online platforms, and the focus has shifted to Digital Technologies in Education. The world is forging a new paradigm for learning.

The Pressure on the Indian Education System: As per AISHE portal of MHRD, in 2019 India had 37.3 million students enrolled in higher education, in 993 universities, and around 42,000 colleges and 10,700 standalone institutes of higher learning. Our current gross enrollment ratio from school to college is only 1:4, and this number for tribal areas is lowest at 1:7.

As per World Bank the world is in a learning crisis due to the poor quality of education. The current education systemin India is also failing to cope with the demands placed on it. 90% of the Indian universities are below par. How can we provide quality education within our limitations?

Tech in Education: Embracing technology to teach is the opportunity and the answer for the way forward. Technology in teaching has greater reach and here to stay. We in India leverage this push provided by technology to address the limitations of the pandemic. A session on zoom has a greater reach than a traditional classroom lecture. Online-classes and recorded courses will build on the current system. This will bring more quality control and outreach.

Online education is a paradigm shift towards blended education. Going forward, use of artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality will bridge the gap of synchronous education environments. EdTech will be data-driven, will use immersion technology, video content and allow for personalization and adaptive learning.

Skills vs Degrees: Degrees are not going to be important. Learning specific disciplines will lose focus. We will see cross-discipline, inter-discipline learning aligned to individual’s focus and needs. There will be close integration between academia and industry. As things change rapidly, every organization will be a learning organization. Corporate India is beginning to feel obsolete – it will need to help the employee to figure what to learn.

Self-Directed, Lifelong Learning:  We are evolving from specific degrees in specific time-frames to lifelong learning. Learning will be in blocks as when the individual requires it. The boundaries between discipline will blend and students will redefine their own purpose-driven program. Our understanding and expectations of what education is, will change accordingly.

People are by nature curious, with a desire to progress. The next generation of students will be self-directed. It will be the responsibility of the learner to be able to define their own path. This will lead to a focus on the accountability and responsibility of the student.

Our job as educators is in inspiring and keeping curiosity alive.

To know about how IILM is incorporating technology for virtual classroom delivery and inclusive education, please visit our website – www.iilm.edu

The Virtual Team Revolution – It’s here to stay!

With the current pandemic situation across the globe, every organization is affected. But has the work stopped? The answer is – No! For the majority of organizations who have successfully established a strong digital culture, it is ‘Business as Usual’. Virtual teams are no more the future. They are here to stay.

Remote Teams – An Old or New Phenomenon?   

A virtual team is one whose members are geographically scattered in different locations communicating and collaborating through technology. Are geographically scattered remote teams a recent concept? If you think it is a new phenomenon, you are right but only partly. While technological advances, the Internet and the global workforce have created better conditions for remote teams in recent times, but they have been around for centuries. All kings and emperors such as Ashoka and Akbar and many others in the western world whose empires spread over large areas managed geographically dispersed remote teams. They created efficient and effective processes for communication and implementation to manage their empires through these remote teams, however, some teams worked efficiently while others struggled.

‘Work From Home’ (WFH) has become a buzz work in recent times. But the fact is that even the concept of working from home is not new. Historically speaking, for most of the trades, work from home was the common way of working. If we look at traditional occupations such as farmers, bakers, tailors, shoemakers, potters, weavers and blacksmiths etc., – they have always worked from homes.

The first Industrial Revolution extricated workers from their homes and pushed them into factories. With the introduction of electricity and public transport systems in the early 20th century, workers were further separated from their home as they began working in offices equipped with telephones, telegraphs, and the typewriter. But this concept soon faced a reverse wave in the 1970s because of the OPEC oil crisis that resulted in very high fuel costs and made commuting exorbitantly expensive.

People began looking for solutions for work to go on without workers having to commute. Jack Nilles, sometimes called “The Father of Teleworking” conducted the first formal tests of telecommuting and it soon saw rapid growth. In the 1980s, J.C. Penney began hiring home-based call center agents with the Clean Air Act leading many large businesses to offer telecommuting. The National Telecommuting Initiative created in 1996 in the US, soon flowed to other parts of the world.

20th century was the era of great technological advances that resulted in increase in telework and virtual teams. Personal Computers, cellular phones, voicemail, and then the internet explosion were factors that paved the way for the virtual workplace as we understand it today. In the year 2020, when organizations are globally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, working virtually has come to the rescue of many organizations and businesses because they were able to continue their businesses and curtail losses.

The Bright and Dark Sides of Virtual Teams

Several studies have found that virtual collaboration is more difficult than in a collocated environment. The disadvantages include difficulties in communication and coordination, reduced trust, and an increased inability to establish a common ground. Physical teams, on the other hand, have proximity that promotes frequent communication and the development of closer and more positive interpersonal relationships. Regular physical presence of team members helps in strengthening social ties that helps to reduce conflict while the distance in virtual teams decreases closeness and affinity, which can result in increased incidence of conflict. Some other issues of remote teams spread across different geographical locations can be that they have to negotiate multiple time zones that require them to reorganize their workdays to accommodate others’ schedules which may lead to frustration and confusion, especially if coworkers are regularly unavailable for discussion or clarification of task-related issues.

Do Virtual teams have any advantages? Yes, Virtual teams have many advantages too.   Remote teams are attractive for companies looking to hire for roles that are hard to fill. They can use remote working as a perk to attract applications for “location independent” positions. These organizations have the added advantage of being able to hire from a larger, more diverse pool of applicants. Then there is cost effective in terms of salaries as they ca hire people at lower salaries when compensation is not connected to living in a big, expensive city.

Other positives of remote virtual teams are that they are less career restrictive for employers and employees with many companies adopting remote as part of their company culture with a work from home option.

Uberization of Jobs

With the pandemic situation looming large across the world and in India, many organizations are actively adopting the work-from-home (WFH) model, and it can be predicted that many jobs could go the Uber way. Uberization of work means that employees can decide which hours of the day they will log in. This is more applicable for tasks that are homogeneous, like that of call centre employees where technological developments are making it easier to monitor remotely.

In India, Axis Bank had been preparing for a WFH model even before the pandemic struck, which made it possible to keep 700 of its call centre executives active even after the lockdown was announced. SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar said in a recent interview that the bank was planning to move to a Work-From-Anywhere model rather than just work-from-home. In the early weeks of the lockdown, HDFC Bank MD and CEO Aditya Puri had said that the bank was going to shift permanently to a WFH model for a third of its employees.

Tech companies, financial services and many other industries are moving towards virtual teams where they will play a large part in the new normal making it imperative for current and aspiring managers and leaders to equip themselves with a  new skill  –  the skill of Managing Virtual Teams. IILM, in step with the current trend, is offering a specially designed course called ‘Managing Virtual Teams’ for its management students and working executives who would like to upgrade their skill. This course discusses how to manage virtual teams so that they can outperform physical or collocated teams. Learning this skill is not an option but a necessity for managers and business leaders today to keep pace with the current world scenario.

To know more about the innovative and industry benchmarked courses, please write to me at atima.mankotia@iilm.edu.

Simulation Games Enhance Learning Outcomes

The biggest challenge of our education system is to leverage the learning of concepts and theories with the use of modern technology to create engaging, relevant, and personalized learning experiences for all students that represent the reality of their future.

Most B-schools and universities follow a teaching style that is a blend of theory and practical. The traditional methods of teaching within the four walls of the classroom that include lectures and textbooks do set the basic foundation for a student. However, to attain the skills, which will be required at the workplace, these concepts have to be applied. The application of the learning will ensure that the student has been able to improve their critical thinking skills. The two years of PGDM should comprise of this blend of theory and practice giving the student a comprehensive curriculum.

Subjects like Entrepreneurship give the students ample opportunities to collaborate and work with peers. For subjects like this, the implementation of simulation is the best solution as it deals with the real-life application of the knowledge gained in the classroom.

What are the benefits of Simulation?

Simulations are games that follow a system or a phenomenon. The players are expected to achieve certain pre-specified goals and the environment of the simulation is pre-defined through algorithms and programming. The biggest benefit of simulations is that students get involved in playing the simulation and they consider it as a game or a competition in the real sense. In the process of playing the simulation, the students start applying the concepts that they have learnt in the classes. This provides them with an opportunity to find out how the concept actually works.

It is also the best way to implement Action Learning, i.e., learning by doing. These days, simulations are available online so they can be accessed from anywhere. Students can form teams and access the simulation from any part of the world. It also encourages more interactions among the students that set the platform for learning from each other. They can also afford to do mistakes and learn from it as the stakes are low and they have nothing to lose in terms of money or any other resource.

How to include Simulation in learning pedagogy?

Since simulations are beneficial for management students, it is imperative that it is included in the learning pedagogy. IILM has been implementing simulations in its UG as well as PG courses. Some of the key aspects that need to be considered for including Simulation in the learning pedagogy are:

  • Decide the learning objectives of the subject and check the relation between the concepts taught and the simulation game. There should be a perfect match between the learning objectives of the course and the skills that the simulation tests in the student.
  • The simulation game should be in a sequence. The sequence should move in terms of complexity. For example, a simulation may be played over 4 quarters and the decisions that the players have to take in the initial quarters should be simpler than the ones that they have to take in the later stages.
  • The class has to be guided by a coach who will channel the thoughts and ideas of the students. There has to be a little bit of hand holding in the initial stages of the simulation so that the students understand the process.
  • The coach can first give a brief synopsis of the situation in which this simulation is being conducted. If required, the initial stages can be demonstrated by the coach so that the students can follow his or her footsteps.
  • As the students play the simulation, the coach should encourage the students to think about their decisions and predict the consequences of their decisions. The coach will then have to connect this analysis with the learning objectives of the course.
  • The teams should be able to present their decisions and if required prepare a brief report of the simulation. The coach can then give their feedback so that the concepts become clear to the students.

In the present dynamic environment, the main focus of higher educational institutions is to enable student-centred teaching. This will be possible only when learning happens in an active and collaborative environment. The inclusion of Simulations in the teaching and learning of management concepts will not only make the students better learners but will also prepare them to face the challenges of the corporate world.

To know about other Management teaching best practices like case based learning, mentoring have a look at the following:

Business Case Studies – An Effective Teaching Tool

https://blog.iilm.edu/case-based-teaching-learning-management/

The Many Avatars of a Teacher – A Facilitator in Learning

What is the Mantra for right mentoring?

 

 

 

 

Business Case Studies – An Effective Teaching Tool

Tell me and I forget.

Teach me and I remember.

Involve me and I Learn.

These lines by Benjamin Franklin have rightly pointed out the gap in our education system. The traditional model of teaching i.e. lecturing would only help students to remember the concepts that have been discussed in class. The effectiveness of the learning process exists only when the students are fully engrossed in the subject. With the availability of electronic gadgets and the internet, the attention span of students has been reducing day by day. In such a scenario, an effective teaching tool that can be used for the business management students is Case-Based Teaching. The concept of case-based teaching is not only found in the management subjects but also found in courses like law, medicine, science, etc. The idea is to make the students understand a real-world problem that needs to be solved with the application of the concepts that the student has learned in the class.

Benefits of Case-based Teaching:

According to Professor Chris Ronald Christensen of Harvard Business School, the case-based teaching classes unfold without a detailed script. This is because the case is relatively unknown to the student, and the discussion that may take place in the class in the context of the case is unknown to the teacher. Many experienced faculty members say that the same case study brings out different learning for the students each time it is discussed with a batch of students. The classroom becomes an open platform for discussion that helps each student to come up with their idea and understanding of the case.

Efforts required in Case-based teaching:

Many faculty members have been using case-based teaching as a part of their teaching pedagogy. This is also practiced in many leading universities like Oxford, Stanford, and Cambridge, etc. The faculty in these institutes believe that the core concept of the case study as well as the course content has to be discussed simultaneously. This requires rigorous preparation on behalf of the faculty. The challenge lies in the ability of the faculty to make the students connect the theory with the practical case study and create ‘teachable moments’ in the process. These teachable moments arise from the classroom discussions and it is the responsibility of the faculty to guide the students through the discussion as well as give the discussion a desired direction. Thus, case-based teaching is a way of discovering the concept in a new manner. It requires the faculty to learn the art of balancing the discussion, planning the direction and also being versatile with strong and powerful storytelling skills.

Teaching cases online:

The current pandemic has created a new normal which includes online teaching. Teachers of all age groups, across the world, had to switch quickly to the online mode of teaching. This was not an easy task to do but then the change was quickly adapted to by faculty members so that the on-going semester could be completed successfully. In this context, the task of case-based teaching became more challenging. One of the major hurdles that the faculty faces while teaching through cases is that not all students read the whole case study and not all students read the case study before they attend the class. This became an even bigger issue to address when the classes shifted online.

To address this issue, the faculty of IILM had to be more proactive and plan the session in small segments. The cases that were taken up for discussion had to be smaller and crisper. Short case-lets are best suited for online case discussions. The questions had to be deep. Taking the advantage of technology, the students were made to discuss among themselves in small groups i.e. break-out groups where the faculty would visit just like it would be done in a physical classroom. The faculty also had to design more short exercises like polls and engage the students in a better manner. An effective way of doing this was by sharing reading material with the students before the class, beginning the class with a recent example, and sharing the faculty’s screen with students so that they can participate actively and share insights. This is followed by a quiz or a small test so that the students can assess their understanding. It can, therefore, be said that undoubtedly case-based teaching is one of the most effective ways of teaching but it will have to be modified with the change in times.

Importance of Case-based Teaching:

Case-based teaching and learning are important as pedagogy as it helps in developing the lifelong skills of critical thinking, collaboration i.e. working in groups, open inquiry, communicating ideas, and thoughts along with subject knowledge to arrive at a solution. Students also like this aspect and are engaged and interested in case discussions. It is a time-tested way of teaching that has been implemented successfully in various courses and institutions. It is an ideal win-win situation for both the faculty as well as the students. On one hand, the faculty can engage the students and also drive home the necessary concepts, the students can apply their knowledge and learn effectively. Thus, the time has come to implement the case-based teaching and learning pedagogy, with a little bit of revamping.

Do comment / write to me on how do you think Case-Based teaching will evolve in the blended learning format.

Higher Education: A Changing Paradigm

Introduction

The world of education has been ever changing and evolving. The unprecedented situation created by the global pandemic , Covid 19 has prompted higher education institutes to rethink yet again. Educators have been researching on the best ways to inculcate the appropriate skills in students and also making efforts towards bringing the best of talent to teach students. It is a difficult task to design a program that meets the needs of students who are from diverse backgrounds and ensure that they get the kind of education that fulfills their purpose and ambitions.

Teaching Pedagogy

Teaching pedagogies are being developed to include interactive and engaging experiences rather than simple dissemination of information. Earlier research suggests that the essence of teaching lies in the faculty’s ability to reflect on their style of teaching. Critically evaluating one’s own method of teaching by making notes and constant reflection may help faculty to improve the student’s “meta-cognitive awareness” and thus help him become a better decision maker (Cook-Sather, 2012). Education is being seen as a means to enable the student to be ready for the real world. Hence it needs to include more of practical application of concepts that provide students experiential learning rather than theoretical knowledge. Teaching methods have been changing from lecture method to flipped classroom, case studies, and blended learning. Technological advancements have enabled blended learning mechanisms where students can learn theoretical concepts through online lectures and use face-to-face class room interactions more effectively. Organisations like Adobe, Cisco and Microsoft, for their growth and high valuations, are investing in building education as a focused vertical and devising ways to help bring technology to the classroom. The idea is to use the classroom time for meaningful interactions. Many educational institutions advertise their tech- savvy classrooms with pride and showcase the flexibility given to students in completing the requirements of their curriculum.

Student Engagement

Student engagement was highly linked to campus life until now. This included all kinds of engagement – class room interaction, clubs and societies, participation in activities and contests, process of internship and placement services, sports and many more. All these are various ways by which a student’s personality takes shape, makes a student more competitive and responsible and helps in development of leadership skills. The process of engaging students is again being re-thought now to include same services online. Institutions have to use technology and deliver the same course and curriculum to the students through various available platforms provided by Microsoft, Google,  Zoom etc. However there is a constant evaluation of whether the students are truly feeling “engaged” or is it a one sided discourse which ends after a session.  The guidelines provided by Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Kuh, 2001) are still relevant from the perspective of being assessed on learnings, value time factor and applying the learnings in their lives.

This continued uncertainty of Covid-19 has made educational institutions look at ways to “manage” the situation rather than reflect on the purpose of education.  In the absence of campus driven activities, student engagement is being looked at differently. The very nature of teaching and learning may undergo a transformational change.  Private colleges like IILM have created Undergraduate and Postgraduate Student Engagement teams working towards understanding the perspective of students and creating a schedule for engaging students. Focused group discussions are being done with students across campuses to understand what students are excited about and what are their barriers to learning and feeling engaged. Several inputs were shared by students which have been referred to here. Instagram pages run and managed by students wherein they can showcase their talents, writing blogs on previous trips made and their experiences, interactive webinars to hone up specific skills and inspiring lectures by industry experts are few of the ways that can promote learning apart from the focus on the program curriculum. The evergreen alternatives of having fun sessions that promote positive interaction, buddy programs for those students who have freshly enrolled in the system, and the joy of being rewarded by peers and teachers for various initiatives are always welcome. Students with writing skills can be prompted to run editorial columns/blogs/newsletters whereas students who are more adventurous can be asked to lead Instagram pages. Social media contests like innovative cooking, gaming and talent hunt are few which can grab their interests and make them feel engaged.

 

 

The Dilemma

There is a marked difference found in the offerings of distance learning and on campus learning’s’ which institutions were earlier using to differentiate as premium learning. Face to face interaction induces better comprehension and teachers can pull students into discussions, design activities for them and provide real time presentation opportunities thereby helping develop the complete personality of the student. A very obvious fact with the on-campus option has been the experience of the student life and its lifelong influence and networks. The thought and the fear of online education impacting the campus/classroom based training has been in existence for many years however it is only the current crisis that has made it look strong. The need for value delivered through sustainable student engagement in various facets and not just limited to academics will have a huge role to play.

Educational institutes will need to think beyond clubs and societies and show their creative side to win and sustain themselves in these uncertain times.  The question is whether institutes will go back to their earlier way of teaching, post Covid -19 or will be able to bring about a more permanent change in their approach to imparting knowledge and look at higher education as a changing paradigm. A lot will depend on how the situation shapes up, however we have to be prepared now.

 

Remedial Plan

Educational Institutes might consider restructuring their current curriculum in order to plan for blended learning.  A combination of online education along with class room teaching would gradually gain importance wherein students can learn the theoretical concepts online, but still have face to face classroom experience wherever necessary. Choosing the right online platform from among the list of options available is also an important factor that will help the institute connect with students and provide different and interesting modes of course delivery and thereby engagement with students.   Maintaining high standards of quality education under all circumstances along with an element of differentiation is a must to create a platform for the institute and to attract students. Overall, institutes will require to rethink their current strategy and approach in order to sustain in this uncertain environment.

References

George D.Kuh (2001) Assessing What Really Matters to Student Learning Inside The National Survey of Student Engagement, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 33(3), 10-17, DOI: 10.1080/00091380109601795

Cook-Sather, A. (2012). Lessons in higher education: Five pedagogical practices that promote active learning for faculty and students. Journal of Faculty Development, 26(1), 33–39.

Harnessing Brand Communication to Reignite Momentum & Restart Commerce

Brand communication is voice. It humanizes any brand to be able to create real and relevant conversations with people. In times of crisis like today, brands play a significant role in shaping the choices people make. These choices are not just about the product or service, but also message and purpose-driven.

IILM conducted an engaging and interactive webinar on “Brand Communication in Times of Crisis ” by Karen Wilson – Publisher & Business Head Lifestyle Division – India Today Group. The webinar was scheduled for 15 May and was streamed live on YouTube. The participants were a mix of students, faculty, and guests who joined through registration.

YouTube video

 

Karen initiated the webinar by talking about how in these unprecedented times, people look to leaders and institutions for guidance, reassurance, and information. We further deliberated that customers today are more aware and exposed to the realities of business. And that’s why it becomes imperative for any business to stick to implicit messaging.

The webinar took an interesting turn when Karen highlighted how increasingly, businesses require to reignite momentum and restart commerce. How they should perceive this moment of crisis not as a danger but also as an opportunity but not at the cost of sounding an opportunist. She added that this is the time for brands to take a moment and reassess past business practices and the road ahead. Karen showed some eye-opening advertisements from the past and from the present that exhibited what brands must do in times of crisis and how in the process maintain their reputation as well.

The latter part of the webinar was open to the audience and some interesting questions on how businesses should strategize their brand policy when sales begin to nosedive, consumers set stricter priorities and reduce their spending, and most businesses postpone new investments. To this Karen focused principally on the right brand messaging and its importance. She explicitly pointed out how brands must appeal to consumers’ emotions. All messaging must elicit a high emotional response to the said product. The underlined sentiments of this new normal must be reinforced in all communication. To a very interesting question on how businesses dealing in non-consumable services must do their branding? Karen was quick to answer that businesses must leverage testimonials and focus on the USP of their service for the end-user.

The webinar was a grand success in terms of the relevance of the content, the structuring of the presentation, the flurry of questions from the audience, and the huge participation.  The crux that as humans, we’re programmed to stay connected. While social distancing measures offer protection and security, they come with a significant impact on the emotional and mental well-being of individuals, communities, and the world at large. It is at times like this that brands must continue to connect and reassure their customers that this too shall pass, and we are in this together, therefore resulting in them remaining top of mind.

Check out this post I wrote on “The Anatomy of Online business- Brand Storytelling the new normal, it’s packed with amazing tips.

Life Skills that Matter – IILM Teaches More than Management

It is common understanding that a Business Management degree prepares you for Business Administration, so you study Management, Organizational Behavior, Human Resource Management, Finance, Marketing, Operations, International Business and a range of other subjects. However the 2 year programme at IILM also prepares you with certain other skills such as Effective Communication, Research and Analysis, Critical Thinking, Change Management, Ability to leverage technology, Time Management, People management, Teamwork, Decision making etc. which may be called soft skills but are actually life skills. Let me explain here how these are so relevant in the context of Covid – 19 which all of us are grappling with today.

The current crisis is a situation that almost no one living today may have faced in his or her lifetime, hence there is no way that anyone could have been prepared for, in advance. When it struck, the reactions were quite similar among most, ranging from brushing it off to disbelief to despair, businesses were no different. However during these times of crisis, Effective Communication is of paramount interest. At IILM, students learn who to communicate with, what to say, how to say and when to say. Your stakeholders are the ones who need to hear from you to have that continued trust in you, how you are managing their interest is what you need to tell them and tell them early on. Any message that is delayed looks like an afterthought, so communicate early and communicate regularly. Keep it short but relevant and regular.

The times are different, the challenges are different, the solutions also have to be different. IILM teaches its students to read, research and analyze what is happening the world over and make sense of it and how it affects our businesses and organizations. It teaches them critical thinking skills and inculcates a sense of judgment and positive thinking to manage any crisis situation. As a manager / leader it is important to know that we must be able to adapt to change as per the situation. In the current situation, it is imperative to stay safe and stay at home. If there is life, there will be a tomorrow and we can always plan and rebuild ourselves. There is just no point in being restless, rather take this time to spend with yourself, review what you have done so far, how you would do it differently, what you could have done better.

Technology they say is a leveler, the digital march is going to make it even more uniform. As millions of people are homebound, their major source of information, inspiration, communication, distraction, entertainment is through technology. IILM encourages its students to be technology savvy and Leverage Technology to bring in effectiveness to their work and business. A case in point, in the times of Covid, technology has moved up a few notches, K-12, Higher education and a good number of businesses have gone online, organizations are rethinking the Work from Home concept, also as an effective cost saving tool. All classes at IILM have been conducted on zoom through paid licenses ensuring security and privacy of teachers and students online.

This is a situation which has put everyone under pressure, be it the government, the police, the doctors, the medical supply chain, the food suppliers and the transport for continuing the work assigned. All others are under pressure to stay at home, manage their job, remain balanced, remain strong, stay calm and help others in whatever way possible, big or small. The Business Management program at IILM by the very nature of its being fast paced with classes, tutorials, assignments, simulations, meeting industry experts in Round Tables or Guest sessions, Summer internships, Live Projects, Placements creates the right kind of pressure with tight deadlines and helps students manage time and manage themselves very well.

People are the most valuable resource that one can have. IILM students develop skills of working in teams and learn to respect one another, value their competence and contribution. People Management is what management is greatly about. Students learn through case studies and role plays and address questions such as how to take people along, how to keep them motivated and engaged with the organization when the chips are down. How to make people feel wanted and part of your team are skills that come with practice. As a manager, you are required to take decisions, most of the times with limited resources, limited information and in limited time. IILM teaches Decision making as a process, a step by step approach to make good decisions. With practice, one becomes adept at following the steps and can still be quick. But if you miss some part of the processes in order to be quick, you will be prone to making mistakes, costly ones!

Most importantly, IILM has an NGO club through which students learn to help and support the marginalized sections of the society. We believe empathy is something, which need not be understood and expected when you are in a spot, but the continued will to share and care for others whatever the situation be. IILM is proud of its 12000+ alumni who as Managers and Business leaders running their businesses responsibly and building the nation.

Prof.(Dr.) Kakoli Sen

The Many Avatars of a Teacher – A Facilitator in Learning

Teaching is a noble profession, it is often said. This is undoubtedly, true . Teachers play a crucial role in the lives of their students. At every stage of a student’s life, there is a teacher who leaves an everlasting impact on his or her mind. Such is the importance of the role of a teacher in the Indian culture that he or she is considered next only to God. While the primary job of a teacher is to impart knowledge, there are many more dimensions to what a teacher can impart to his or her students. The bond between the teacher and the student strengthens as a result of the holistic learning that a student experiences.

Changing role of Teachers:

The teacher’s role has undergone many changes with time. It has transformed from being a sage on the stage to becoming a guide on the side. The role of a teacher has now become more of a facilitator in the learning processes. As a facilitator, they encourage the students to think out of the box. This is done by providing the students with the tools to learn and creating a comfortable environment for learning.  The provision of a conducive environment to the students helps to elicit responses from them, challenge their thoughts, and ultimately extend their capacity to learn.

Requirements to be a facilitator:

The faculty members at IILM create productive classroom environments with their dynamic teaching methodologies. The aim is to inculcate and develop the skills in the students that they will need in the future. This requires proper planning and good preparation of the teacher so that they can handle any queries that may come up in the class discussion. The learning goals and outcomes are decided beforehand, for each course keeping in mind the industry norms and requirements. A detailed plan is prepared for the development of these skills sequentially. This includes the combination of online and offline resources, case studies, role plays, group activities, etc. The faculty member will make certain that the classroom sessions revolve around the material provided and give direction for the discussion. They also intervene when a necessary concept needs to be discussed.

Teacher’s Facilitator role and B-schools:

The facilitator’s role is more vibrant than any other role of a teacher as they always have to be on their toes. This helps in a stronger understanding of the concepts by giving more independence to the students in the learning process. The age-old method of one-way communication by the teacher i.e. lecturing has now made way for the facilitator role. This has implications on the way the classroom activities are designed. Effective facilitating will only be possible when the activities are less modeled and less supported. The freedom to explore and apply the concepts learned in the classroom is the need of the hour. This is all the more required in B-schools for producing managers who are ready to tackle any unforeseen event. Thus, the teacher now facilitates students to think rather than providing them ready-made knowledge. This not only prepares students to face the uncertainties in the business world but also makes the classroom sessions more interesting and lively.

The Student Teacher Relationship at IILM University

The bond I share with my students is an incredibly special one. This is a relationship which continues for life and, IILM University has given us teachers this flexibility to not only interact with our students inside the classroom but also outside.

At IILM University, this is a relationship of respect, love and trust. The foundation of this relationship gets laid on day one when a student takes admission. It gets nurtured during the tenure of the student, continuing even after the completion of their program. The teacher is a mentor, a friend, philosopher and guide in the true spirit. The students have long conversations with their teacher – whether it is in a professional area or an academic concern or connecting on a personal level or just generally talking on any topic under the sun. There is seamless communication between the teachers and their students. At IILM University, teachers not only guide them to make informed choices about their careers, but also motivate them to bring out their true potential. They give them feedback so that they improve themselves. The teachers enhance their confidence levels so that they are prepared to face the challenging corporate world. Most importantly, they spend time with their teachers at IILM University. This relationship transcends the boundaries of formalities and the teacher acts as a mentor for the students.

At IILM University, we understand that students are at the cusp of an important juncture in their life, and they need the support of their teachers to hand-hold them in order to take judicious career decisions. IILM ensures that they have a smooth transition from being happy-go-lucky students to sincere and serious corporate professionals. The role of a teacher in shaping the life of the students at IILM is far more critical and serious business than anywhere else. At an age when most of the students are unable to take professional guidance from their parents, the teachers act as an anchor in their lives, giving them the direction they are seeking.

IILM encourages its students to come out of their comfort zones. As teachers, we persuade them to take challenging tasks and set tough goals for themselves. In the process, they emerge as winners, because they also learn the art of accepting failure and moving on in life, even if they are not successful.

On my part, I feel, it is this bond with the students that completes me as a teacher. It does not matter what time they call or send a message on WhatsApp. It is my commitment to them that they will get a response at the earliest, if not immediate. I do not believe in scolding them. In fact, I do not remember shouting at any of them ever. But it certainly does not imply that I accept whatever they do and say. It also does not mean that I am a lenient teacher. Throughout these 13 years in academics, students have always listened to me and complied to what I would have said. The students of my first teaching batch of 2007 still get back to me for help and guidance. And the reason for it is only one – I treat them as adults and very gracefully put across my point. I do not hurt them, nor do I say anything that I would regret later. I do not believe in taunting them, nor do I ever expose their weaknesses in front of others. I have never embarrassed them by sharing their personal experiences to other colleagues or students.

I conduct myself in such a way, that it gives them the confidence that they can connect with me and take my help any time they want to. This attitude has never let me down. It has made students connect with me, even if I would not have taught them in class. And not surprisingly, I am in touch with all the student batches that I have taught in these years, in some way or the other. I attribute this to the mutual love and respect that exists in my student-teacher relationship. I believe that if we want our students to become good human beings, we must treat them as one.