Higher Learning – Rambunctious Thoughts to Deliberate ! ( India centric )
Background : Teaching and Learning has witnessed a massive transformation where the faculty now don the role of a mere “FACILITATOR” and not the Lecturer/Professor in the traditional mold. It is highly participative now with students contributing to every topic substantially in the class room – in application, innovation and future trends. In funda probably the role of teacher still stands reasonably firm. This, however, is not to generalize and universalize the scenario. Several factors are making this transformation a reality and a boon.
My Notion; my mind; and my view here in brief :
1. Sourcing, where teachers played a dominant role has been reduced to almost nil with the onslaught of web and networking technologies.
2. Ideation, again, is not the sole preserve of the teacher now.
3. Methodology, analysis and interpretation have also been aided by “Open Tools” easily accessible to anyone at the click of a mouse. Students discuss, argue, and learn while watching MTV or while sipping Coffee in the Cafe – which scenario when I predicted in the late-seventies and early-eighties evoked laughter and derision.
These are real now and in no way impede the learning process. Faculty ‘enabling’ within the boundaries of shifting methodologies is what I term the “altered roles”. The point to note is that “teaching is not less attractive but involves a role shift requiring adaptation and when that happens it is an enjoyable experience (less burdensome ) for both the teacher and the learner today.
What today’s faculty need to do is to enrich this experience by “research inputs” ( local, regional, national, international; gathered and self-conducted ); Case studies written; Best practices collected; and new ways of participative contribution – debates, presentation, short problem solving exercises and so on. The industry internment is the Laboratory Experiment making practical gains. Many others can be reasoned upon a thought and added.
Many Institutions promote independent initiatives ( once the overtopping province of IITs and IIMs ) by the faculty in so far as involvement in a variety of assignments – fund raising for the Institute with contribution and recognition for self, e.g., Consulting, Executive Development Programs, Workshops, Short-term Courses to cite just a few. Hence, the oft quoted reason that ‘financial package’ for the faculty is a constraint in maintaining standards does not hold water.
For years ( or is it decades ? ) IIT and IIM faculty have been insulated from competition within the country; and even hailed as demi-gods. Perhaps, rightly for a variety of reasons which today evoke discussion(s) and sometimes stokes contentious debates. How many top ranking students of IITs pursue doctorate degrees in India or join as faculty here? – a question posed by many in different discussions. Is joining multinationals/moving abroad a ‘recherche’ while joining as faculty or taking up a job here ‘en dernier ressort’ ? Faculty from small players today exhibit remarkable intellectual prowess in National and International Forum with ease and elan. This has been possible mainly due to the advent of ‘Electronic Technologies’ and ‘Smart Partnering’ activities. With adequate funds from the Government / other funding agencies and better infrastructure promoting research, their performance and progress will see an upside. That will be sonse for learning initiatives and an answer to our plaguesome malaise worrying the academic administrators and policymakers.
With changing times one needs extreme degree of adaptation to the good and not-so-good of every initiative. Faculty, Students, Parents, Administrators, Support staff included with no stakeholder remaining excluded.
” Dieu avec nous “
Monday, November 11, 2013 – 9.55 p.m (IST)
Tidbit : Years teach more than Books. I have experienced it to the full.