Physical Classroom Will Remain In Demand: Dr Debashis Sanyal

In an exclusive interaction with BW Education, Dr Debashis Sanyal, Director, Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, talks about the institution's attempts in dealing with COVID-19 disruptions, NEP 2020, Union Budget 2021 and more. Excerpts:

How do you look at the post-COVID scenario of the education ecosystem in India?

The education ecosystem was already going through a major transformation. Virtual education was complementing classroom teaching and had become an important platform for synchronous and asynchronous learning, at all levels of education, primary to higher.

COVID-19 acted as a catalyst. It forced reluctant users and teachers to quickly adapt to the virtual platform. The post-COVID world will see the coexistence of physical and virtual teaching-learning platforms, reinforcing one another, providing quality and more gratifying learning.

The pandemic has affected the education sector in a major way? What solutions do you think educational institutions can come up with?

Education institutions are involved in the transfer of knowledge, peer to peer, and teacher-student one-to-one learning. As an aftermath of the pandemic a significant part of ‘transfer of knowledge’ will move to the digital platform. At primary and tertiary levels too, synchronous and asynchronous learning will become more popular. Peer to peer learning, which significantly contributes towards enhancing soft skills and faculty-student one-to-one interaction will still require a physical environment.

What are you doing to stay ahead and re-visualize your institution?

Great Lakes, Gurgaon is known for imparting technology-driven general management programs. We will keep exploring the meaningful blending of digital and physical platforms and content for better learning and research. We plan to develop asynchronies and interactive modules. Such modules will help the student to learn on their own, at a time most suitable to them. The school continuously look forward to evolving to make learning more engaging and exciting. The school also is committed to creating a research-centric environment.

In your opinion, will there be an impact on on-campus education from the changed scenario?

Not in India in the coming years. As mentioned, previously as well, there is no replacement for peer to peer learning. Meeting and learning from faculty in the classroom will remain in demand, but flipped classroom will be a pedagogical approach. Students will be required to finish the lower level of cognitive work before class so that when they come to class, they can engage in higher cognitive levels of learning with peers and teacher present.

Shed some light on the placements figure of the last session, in a situation like this when the economy is still trying to recover from the COVID-19 disruptions?

B-Schools in 2019-20 were adversely impacted due to reverts after the COVID outbreak. 2020-21 is experiencing a sound placement scenario. Many companies who had stopped hiring during the pandemic are coming back to campus for recruitment. In fact, there has been an increase in the number of new companies that came for placement. Definitely, due to the changing work scenarios, the job profiles have changed. Old committed recruiters, as well as new recruiters, look for students having knowledge of AI, ML, Analytics, digital tools and other exponential technology along with the domain knowledge. The profile mix has changed as the businesses are becoming more and more technology-driven.

Where according to you, are we lagging behind and what would you suggest in order to come at par with the education system of developed nations of the world?

Business Schools and other higher learning institutions in India are far behind western counterparts on the research front. We need to increase our publications and that too quality publications. Creating the right environment is critical to attracting good researchers.

Indian institutes by and large do not make a committed effort on brand building. Vibrant brands attract quality students not only from India but also students from other countries. International students add to class diversity. Marketing to International students is another need of the time. So quality research, brand building and international marketing are areas of concern.

Your take on the NEP 2020 and Union Budget 2021.

National Education Policy is an excellent vision document. GOI could not commit much towards the envisaged dream due to resource constraint. To implement NEP recommendations to increase the GER from 26-50 per cent in higher education we need a commitment of resources, financial as well as other resources. The government needs to allocate 6 per cent of GDP to education as committed in NEP.

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