This is an assessment of academic institutions in India. The institutions need radical transformation. There are many options and opportunities before them. There is a need to transform curriculum, pedagogy, examination system, and industry-institute partnerships in order to achieve the ultimate goal of transformation of students into industry-ready professionals. A case study is discussed to identify the process of transformation.
Introduction – The Emergence of a New Era
Everything is transforming, but the pace of transformation is very fast in a few sectors. A few sectors have been changing and therefore they are not experiencing the shocks, which some other sectors are experiencing. The education sector is one such sector which is experiencing a dramatic shift. This is one sector which didn’t change much during the last few decades. While the banking sector completely transformed from brick and mortar banking to mobile banking – the education industry remained confined to its silos. Now it’s too late to change. This is the time to complete the shift to new platforms. There is no possibility of an incremental shift, but this is the time for radical transformation.
While all other industries embraced technology, the educators didn’t change, and these were the people who were asking all others to embrace technology. The blackboard and the white chalk continued its journey for very prolonged life. The teacher always had some or other excuse to continue with the age-old technologies. The time for radical change came without any signal for preparation. All of sudden all the schools and colleges are closed. Everyone has to immediately shift to online platforms. No one seems to be prepared. No one seems to be willing to proceed. But the forces of time and tide are beyond our comprehension. We have to accept what comes our way.
Ideally, the education industry should have introduced changes well in advance. They should have revised their technologies, practices, curriculum, and processes. However, age-old habits die hard. Academicians preach for change, but they themselves are resistant to change. They wish to cling to age-old practices and they are least interested in adopting new technologies (although they publish research papers that advocate for radical change). Human nature is full of paradoxes and the education industry is a live example of this. No educational institution was prepared for online education till 2018, but in the next two years, everything changed. Now every educational institution is imparting online education.
The education industry in India is far behind its counterparts in developed countries. Academic institutions are still continuing with old practices and old technologies. Academic institutions are producing a very large number of unemployable youth, who find themselves cheated because they are rejected by the industry. Academic institutions are unable to create the right processes to transform the students into industry-ready professionals. There is no collaboration between industry and academic institutions and due to this, there is a disconnect between them. Academic institutions need major transformation, which can happen only with the help of the latest technologies.
Important Issues in the Process of Change
The education industry has the following sub-domains that require radical changes: –
- Curriculum – age-old curriculum cannot give the desired results. The students are getting rejection in industries due to this. Inputs from the industry can enhance the quality of the curriculum. The transformation of students should be the ultimate goal of education. The education industry needs to change the curriculum to incorporate the latest technologies and latest issues. There is a need to give freedom to students to opt for choice-based credit, take up online courses and opt for industry training instead of classroom teaching. There is a need to give greater opportunities to students to plan and organize their courses with greater options for selections.
- Pedagogy – old lecture methods do not give desired results. There is a need to introduce participative and engaging methods of teaching and mentoring. There is a need to introduce new and improved methods of teaching, learning, and development
- Examination – age-old systems of paper-pencil-based closed examinations are least suitable for the present-day context. There is a need for radical reform in examinations. There is a need to introduce team-based assignments and introduce measurable yardsticks for live industry projects
- Industry-institute partnerships – there is a need to have enriched industry-institute partnerships, which will transform the education process completely and will enable better value addition
- Placement – there is a need to have greater opportunities for students to undertake live projects and get guidance from industry mentors, which will ultimately result in their placements.
- Online mentoring and guidance – there is a need to introduce the latest technology in enabling the transformation of students – the students should regularly get mentoring and guidance from industry experts so that there is no gap between what industries require and what students prepare for.
A large number of technological options have emerged in the recent past, which can help academic institutions in their transformation. A few examples are mentioned here (this is not a comprehensive list): –
- New apps (computer software) enable online live classes – which enable the students to have a feeling of face to face classes – yes these classes are far superior – because these classes give the added advantages of recording facilities, live content sharing, and online demonstration also
- New online examination apps – new applications have been developed that can conduct online examinations of the students
- Online libraries – online libraries and resources are added advantages to the students
- Online lectures and resources
- Placement support – better tools for training, industry mentoring and online job search opportunities enable better placement support to the students
- International collaborations – today it is possible to have online education from the best universities and academic institutions across the globe. This collaboration can help any institutions in its transformation
The Process of Change: Live Case Discussion
Suresh Gyan Vihar University introduced ‘success score’ a very comprehensive tool to incorporate technological innovations in the transformation of students – this is done in this way: –
- Online training and placement review – periodic review of training and placement by industry veterans and introduction of online review meetings
- Technological upgradation of students – every student is provided free email and free cloud storage for academic purpose (with Google collaborations)
- Preparation for new technologies – the university has tied up with industry leaders to introduce training in the latest technologies
Suresh Gyan Vihar University has collaborated with Harvard Business School Publishing, IBM, BSE Institute, and Google – these collaborations have helped in the transformation process. Case studies and simulations published by Harvard Business School have been integrated into the curriculum. Training in Business Analytics was introduced with the help of IBM. Google had provided support and technological expertise. A free Gmail account (with unlimited storage) was created for every student and every faculty member. During the Lock-down, the university immediately shifted to Google Meet (online meeting platform) and online education was institutionalized. Now every class is recorded and recordings are shared with the students. The students have greater comfort in participating in the class. The university hired an outside company for conducting online examinations. The university introduced radical reforms in the following manner: –
- The curriculum has now been revised to include post-covid challenges including the challenges of online education
- Training and faculty development programs have been organized to prepare faculty members for the new situations
- Students and faculty members are given greater opportunities for participation in online conferences, seminars, webinars, and other academic interactions
- Social media has now become the most important tool for marketing, publicity, and branding.
Change is difficult and painful, as it is difficult to leave old habits. However, sometimes change is the only option. Technologies keep on changing and if these are not incorporated in educational infrastructure, then radical change becomes the only option. The education industry is supposed to prepare the youth for the future; however, this sector itself has remained the most laggard sector. Today, the rampant unemployment and massive unrest among youth are due to the failure of academic institutions to transform themselves. There is an urgent need to introduce radical changes. Every institution should get itself reviewed by peers and introduce the latest technologies to transform its curriculum, pedagogy, teaching-learning support system, and training and placement opportunities. Examination reforms are the most important reforms that can completely transform academic institutions. The use of modern tools can help in introducing online webinars, online classrooms, and industry mentoring and collaborating academic events.
About the Author:
Trilok Kumar Jain, Professor & Dean, Suresh Gyan Vihar University Jaipur
Trilok Kumar Jain is Professor and Dean at International School of Business Management, Suresh Gyan Vihar University Jaipur, and Director of Ecosystem for Innovation and Entrepreneurship with expertise in Spiritualism, Higher Education Management, Spiritual Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, and Social Entrepreneurship. He is actively engaged in mentoring startups, conducting FDPs, motivating teachers, and is also active on many social media platforms. He is also a contributor to the UN encyclopedia on sustainable development, published by Springer Nature. He has been writing articles, poems, and inspiring articles for the youth. He has contributed a large number of e-books, articles, videos on academics, educational management, the transformation of society, and faculty empowerment. He is an active contributor to many journals and blogs including IU E-magazine. He is on the board of many institutions including ICFAI University Jaipur, Atal Incubation Centre, JITO Incubation center.
The views are the personal views of the author. The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at facebook.com/professortrilok