“You can have great systems and strategies, but unless you have good people, it is difficult to have an institution that will work. For an academic institution, two stakeholders – the students and the faculty – co-create the value of the institution,” Dr. A. K. Sen Gupta, Founder and Convener, Higher Education Forum (HEF), laid the foundation for the theme of the eighth annual Higher Education Forum Convention on March 18. This year’s convention, held at Durgadevi Saraf Institute of Management Studies (DSIMS), centred around the theme ‘Developing Effective and Passionate Teachers: Key to Create Great Higher Education Institutions’.
Dr. N. M. Kondap, Director General – DSIMS, who delivered the welcome address after the ceremonial lighting of the lamp emphasised on the qualities that would make teachers effective and passionate. Among other things, he said, “Teachers should be able to tolerate the absurdities of students, and yet pay attention to manners and behaviour. Teachers should have respect for students, and be willing to adopt change without making any ethical compromises. Great teachers are often known to collaborate with colleagues.”
With that, it was upon Dr. Sen Gupta to set the convention theme. “Serious reforms are needed in the teaching and learning process to bring about the creation of passionate and effective teachers,” he said, adding that among the many aspects, faculty qualifications, salaries, increments and retention needed to be looked into. He mentioned that teachers should not only have a transactional relationship with the institution – ie, they come, teach and get paid – but should have a deeper relationship. “We need to think on how to improve the standards of teachers, and create an environment where passion is created and innovation is encouraged,” he mentioned.
Talking of his vast and varied experiences during the Academic Keynote Address, Director of IIM Raipur, Dr. B. S. Sahay, said that if teachers can create experiences for students in the classroom, they will be able to achieve what they want. “For that, the onus lies in the hands of the leader of the institution,” he said, also stating that unfortunately, the heads of institutions are often caught up with fulfilling the needs in terms of the number of teachers needed and hence shy away from taking tough decisions when it comes to looking at passion when recruiting teachers.
With so much academic opinion, the balance was provided in a light-hearted manner with some serious points to ponder by Ramesh Iyer – Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Mahindra Finance, who delivered the Corporate Keynote Address. “I have limited academic experience, but I would say that in any profession you are in, if you stick to good governance and ethical practices, your organisation will be great. Secondly, you need to respect your stakeholder and analyse what he needs. For teachers, it could be the needs of the students, and perhaps even their parents. Thirdly, Fulfil the promises that you have made. Lastly, think about the product you are letting out in the market. If this product is good, automatically, you will be well known. These students will generate more students for you,” he said.
Noted management guru, Professor Sharu Rangnekar, in his special address talked of how to look at the positive changes within the country, and how teachers can reflect to bring about change within themselves. “It is comfortable to be what we are, and so people resist change. I would say, do what you want to do to be a good teacher and don’t think about others. Ask yourself, how many prejudices have you removed?” he advised.
While the teacher delegates in the audience processed the academic and corporate views, Dr. Peter Cunningham – Professor, Nelson Mandela University, South Africa provided the international perspective. “Teachers have the dual role of providing good employees and good citizens. That is a huge challenge for academicians. With education, we are instilling a value system within the students, and this value system should look at industrial and global sustainability. We need to look at our own adaptability in our day to day affairs, to enable our students to become candidates who can compete in the global environment,” he said.
Dr. Rammohan Rao, Former Dean, Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, in his Presidential Address mentioned that the best thing a teacher can do is to get his or her students to learn by themselves. “Learning doesn’t end in the classroom. We need to encourage learning with understanding through discussions, questioning, reflection, critical thinking, problem solving role playing and so on.” He went on to talk of the concepts of flipped classrooms and blended learning, and inculcating critical thinking among students, which he said was lacking in almost all spheres.
These thoughts then gave way to the panel discussion on the central theme, and the Faculty Round Table Competition. Hosting the session, Dr. Parag Amin, Prof. Rajesh Nair and Prof. Vikram Parekh. core committee members of HEF, kept the audiences engaged with their interesting insights. Core committee member Dr. Ranjeev Manrao proposed the vote of thanks at the end of the convention. Over 250 delegates attended the convention.
Changing times, changing needs
As the morning progressed, minds were rejuvenated with the ideas presented by the eminent speakers. The panel members talked out of their rich experiences and presented different view points from all angles.
Leading and moderating the panel discussion on key enablers of developing a great faculty was Dr. Subhash Sharma – Director, Indian Business Academy, Bengaluru. He talked of several aspects of a good teacher, and left the audience with a lot of food for thought with his expansion of the word hope –higher order purpose of existence. “Can we invoke this thought in our students?” he asked the audience members.
Taking the discussion ahead, Dr. Prakash Vel – Associate Professor, University of Wollongong in Dubai, talked of how the global learning environment and the global student have changed. “That’s why teachers are now more advisors and consultants,” he said. He also emphasised the need for research and the importance of involving the industry for research. “If a teacher looks into ethics, action, human values, enterprise and research., he will be able to add on a lot to the students’ lives and gain peace and happiness himself,” he said. He further added that teachers should always look into cooperation, not competition.
Moving on, Vishwas Lapalkar – member, Vivekanand Kendra Kumari, Branch Pune, started telling a story of how Japanese teachers inculcated values among their students. He spoke of the passion of Swami Vivekananda, and asked the questions – what is the goal of life, what is the purpose of education. The answer lies in some Swami Vivekananda said – “Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.” He further said that through education, a person should go from animal man (the way he was born) to divine man (final stage). The interim stages would be man man and super man. For this to happen, teachers have to strive very hard, for that it helps if teachers are teachers out of choice and not chance. Another aspect he mentioned was that values are caught, not taught, so teachers have to be careful in the way they are around their students.
The baton of the panel discussion then went to the student representative – Amit Bhalerao – Student of SIES College of Management Studies, Mumbai. In a succinct and quiet manner, he talked of what a teacher means to him. “A great teacher is a combination of several aspects, including facilitator, guru and mentor. For me, a good teacher is one who has a good influence on me and my peers,” he said. He added that the important factors that go into making a good teacher are attitude and delivery. “A teacher should be approachable and easy going, and should try to understand that students today are different from what students were when they were learning. Therefore, they should expect less and accept more. When it comes to delivery, a teacher should focus more on the ‘why’ part of the study material rather than the ‘what’. Also, teachers should show innovation, not only in the classroom lessons but also in evaluation.”After a healthy panel delivery, the members and other senior academicians engaged in a healthy question answer session with the audience.
How do we do it differently?
In keeping with this year’s theme of faculty and faculty development, HEF this year hosted a unique Faculty Round Table Competition instead of the usual second panel discussion. This initiative offered a lot of takeaways to the teacher delegates present in the room. Eleven faculty members from different institutions across the country participated in the competition, with the jury comprising of Dr. G. S. Singh – Higher Education Advisor and Senior Member, HEF; Thothathri Raman – Chairman, SEAA Trust; Delhi and Raj Adhikary – CEO, Japan Education Centre in India (JECI), Delhi.
Each of the faculty members was given a maximum of 10 minutes to present their work – on innovation in their teaching and work. Once they presented their work, the jury asked them questions and provided suggestion on how to progress further. Each of the members brought in something new and refreshing in their presentations. A total of 11 presentations were made.
Dr. Surendra Sunderarajan – Faculty, Finance, M. S. University in Vadodara talked of innovative usage of the media, especially a financial newspaper for assimilation of economic and financial news.
Prof. Rabindra Henry – Director, Prahlad P. Chhabria Research Center, Pune, talked of building laboratories in India and talked of self sufficient innovations in businesses and product development with revenues over the last few years. He was adjudged the winner by the jury.
Dr. Navin Punjabi – Faculty, Marketing, H. R. College of Commerce and Economics, talked of the various measures he adopted in his classes to elevate the effective of learning – from learning with games to engaging with the corporate sector and addressing the masses to usage of material in book.
Dr. Ela Goyal – Faculty, Systems, SIES College of Management Studies (SIESCOMS), highlighted gamification in education. It does not refer to playing games, but advancing levels in education, like one would advance in a game. Thus, students of a basic English module were offered badges and points for working, trying and levelling up in innovative ways borrowed from games. The more they tried, the better they did.
Prof. Rusha Das – Faculty, Marketing, N. L. Dalmia Institute of Management Studies and Research, undertook the course of research design among undergraduate students and emphasised the need for research in areas otherwise not considered.
Dr. Rashmi Gopinathan – Faculty, D. Y. Patil College – School of Business forayed into experiential learning, through learning by doing, community of practice, integration of projects, team working, creating and organisation and mind mapping among many other models.
Dr. Damodar Prabhu – Adjunct faculty, Chemistry, Wilson College, spoke of all the various initiatives undertaken by his students over the years in semi micro chemical analysis. He was given the runner up position by the jury.
Dr. Suyash Bhatt – Faculty, Finance, Welingkar Institute of Management, talked of innovation in acquisition, application, and assimilation of knowledge in his domain through story boarding, gaming and animation and offered the example of learning accounting by playing a version of Monopoly. He has also designed a new game.
Dr. Hetal Mehta – Principal, Swami Sahajananad College of Commerce and Management, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, spoke on adopting the modules of the NPTEL programme of the Ministry of Human Resource Development. She spoke on how the online modules are imparted to the students in her small town college and how the faculty works in conjunction to add to their knowledge.
Prof. Arpita Pandey – Faculty, Marketing, ITM Business School talked of experiential learning through a new approach called Business Chaupal, where her students set up a market in a real setting and acquired and sold goods for a profit. In the bargain they learnt several aspects of business and management apart from sales and distribution.
Dr. Srini R. Srinivasan – Faculty, Marketing Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, talked of technology as an enabler and why lectures should be conducted without presentations, and how to engage the students for a long session.