Hospitality Education In The New Digital Dimension

The possibility of returning back to lockdown is still there and digital education might be around for a while.

Digital education became the new normal overnight. While more traditional disciplines that are based heavily on theory are understandably easier to translate to the digital medium, how are more practical oriented courses like hospitality faring? While India is cautiously re-opening, the possibility of returning back to lockdown is still there – and digital education might be around for a while. How have hospitality courses adapted to the new teaching style and what are the biggest challenges they are facing? 

Vocational training – possible or not?  

While a large part of hospitality education is business, managerial & financial – strong vocational aspects still exist. Culinary arts, F&B service, front office operations and housekeeping are just some of the skills hospitality graduates need to learn in order to be capable managers in luxury establishments. Many institutes have adapted by providing digital tutorials and then asking students to film themselves carrying out the required tasks and submitting them as homework.  

Traditional networking is taking a backseat 

Networking is a key component of any higher education – and hospitality – with its close-knit community of graduates – is no exception. With institutes priding themselves on regular industry mixer events and helping familiarise their students with the industry early on, the lockdown has proved challenging towards such an important USP. While networking events might not be possible for the foreseeable future, the industry connect is being kept alive with frequent industry guest speaker sessions for students, as well as open webinars for interested prospects.  

Rethinking exams and establishing parent invigilators  

This lockdown has also been the first time we’ve seen online examinations. Something that we’re used to seeing carried out with the utmost protocols and scrutiny was now completely out of institutes hands. Colleges had to enlist the help of parents and provide guidelines on exam invigilation, resources to provide and how to ensure a fair examination environment.   

Supplementing social activities  

Social interactions are a vital part of personal development during college – and with hospitality – an industry based on human interaction – all the more so. Time spent making friends between classes, building relationships and developing crucial soft skills that prove invaluable in working life. To help students with the lack of physical contact with their batchmates, the Indian School of Hospitality, amongst other colleges, has integrated digital extracurricular activities into their hospitality management curriculum.  

Students now have regular zoom parties, online games and even cooking competitions to help nurture student bonding and foster more joy in learning. In fact, the Indian School of Hospitality is hosting a fully-online ‘Freshers Fest’ for its new batch of students before the autumn opening, using the lockdown to its advantage and giving students additional months of bonding and interactions to make friends and get to know each other before physical classes start.  

Internships will have to be postponed for the time being  

There’s no way around it, but internships, one of the most critical aspects of hospitality education, will have to be postponed for the time being. With the hospitality industry still working out all the protocols and rules of safe operations in preparation for full re-opening, it’s going to be a while before institutes and companies feel comfortable taking on interns. So what does this mean for hospitality students? A simple semester swap solves the issue, with students getting started on advanced classes, with internships most likely to resume by early next year.  

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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