While classes are currently being conducted online, many are wondering if online mode can be used to teach Engineering and Management programmes? Can it be effective? Can online teaching replace the traditional campus? However, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions.
An MBA programme is a generalist programme and grooms a candidate to be a good manager with the requisite academic knowledge and people skills. While academic knowledge can be effectively imparted through online classes, people skills can be developed only on campus. Various activities apart from theoretical classes help groom the personality of a candidate, making him or her ready to enter the corporate world or even start and manage a start-up. A plethora of inter B School case study competitions are launched on campus by corporate companies, where they showcase their company culture and opportunities that they have to offer to a management student.
Now, as different sectors have resumed their activities following the lifting of lockdown, maintaining social distance, usage of masks and hand sanitisers have all become mandatory in the ‘new normal’ and BSchools have to modify their process and infrastructure while adapting to the new normal in the academic delivery process.
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When students return to the campus, several readjustments have to be made in the classrooms to ensure that social distancing is maintained. A classroom that accommodated sixty students prior to Covid-19 times should be restructured to accommodate thirty students or less. Many other changes that have to be introduced are foot handle openers placed for all doors, hand sanitisers placed at the entrance of each classroom, placing devices at the staff or faculty members desk which can alert social distance violations. This will ensure social distancing and hygiene in the classrooms and staff rooms. The same kind of process changes will be necessary in the canteen, at the mess and hostels.
It’s time for B Schools to restructure in the academic delivery process and examinations. Blended methods of teaching could be to be adopted, which can ensure that the knowledge that has to be imparted to the students is done without any changes or reduction in the content. All those topics which are ‘mundane’ and need no discussion can be delivered using asynchronous online mode of delivery. Faculty members can record the sessions and post them in popular Learning Management Systems (LMS) like Google classroom, or Moodle on cloud or even the Microsoft Teams platforms which are adopted by the academic institutions. Many of these LMS are free for academia and also come with loads of features to manage the online content and also provide a platform for the students to submit assignments, projects or even submit their questions which can be answered by their peer group or by the faculty member. There is a need to bring in changes to the way in which examinations are conducted and introduce flexibility in the evaluation process.
The new normal will demand several small and large process changes, which can ensure the safety of students, especially till a vaccine for Covid-19 is available at an affordable cost.
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