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.

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