Dr. Pritee Saxena
Sr. Director and Campus Head, IBS – Mumbai
It is equally important to sensitise students to adapt to new working modes such as remote-working and hybrid platforms, gig working and entrepreneurship, which are the order of the day and of coming times.
Share some of the factors that have helped students and educators cope with digital learning in the hybrid model of education
ICFAI Business School (IBS) took the lead in wholesome transition to the online and hybrid learning mode when the world came to a halt on account of the lockdown. This transition was possible because of the leadership and operational acumen of leadership team of ICFAI Business School (IBS), supported by highly competent Faculty and a very strong Administration and Placements Teams.
Offline to Online During the Lockdown-A Seamless Operation
The entire process of transitioning from offline to online/digital in the midst of the lockdown was done seamlessly and in record time.
- A critical factor leading to success was the unflinching resolve of the leadership team to maintain the sanctity and standard of the full-time post-graduate programme in management and the utmost priority given to academic rigour, student development for industry readiness.
- The IBS Learning Management System, Quicforce which had been set up in 2011 and was already way ahead of its time, had been functional before the pandemic as a learning support system to enhance the learning experience. While the lockdown brought most educational institutions to an impasse, ICFAI Business School (IBS) demonstrated remarkable agility in harnessing Quicforce to continue with the regular programme on the online mode by swiftly upgrading it and populating the Learning Management System with the latest asynchronous content.
- As for synchronous learning through online classes, the entire workforce of IBS rose to the occasion and the highly competent Faculty enthusiastically went through in-depth training on online teaching to learn new techniques of online teaching and student engagement. Faculty learnt to use quizzes, polls, forums, create e-notes and audio-video content so that each one of the students gets a complete learning experience.
- The administrative teams ensured seamless coordination of online classes and Students could reach out to their Quicforce Mentors, specially appointed to help them resolve their technical and connectivity problems on a 24/7 cycle.
- All online sessions were recorded and made available on Quicforce so that students could refer to them whenever they wished.
- Online communication channels such as chat box, forum, WhatsApp groups and emails enabled students to maintain a steady flow of communication with their teachers and ensure continual learning.
- A unique gesture in the form of a Faculty Section In charge for each division helped in making each student feel cared for and cope with the sense of isolation that comes with remote learning.
Moving to the Hybrid Mode – An exercise in Thoughtfulness and Safety
When it was time to move to the hybrid mode, IBS left no stone unturned to make students feel completely safe to return to the campuses.
- Students were given a choice to return to the campuses only with the consent of their parents and after being fully vaccinated.
- The campuses are frequently sanitised and temperatures checked before letting anyone inside the campus.
- Ensuring social distance norms, students and Faculty always wear their masks while on campuses.
- Hybrid classes are conducted with the use of Smartboards to ensure complete engagement and attention to both offline and online students.
What are the elements that make leadership development at ICFAI Business School successful?
The objective of the Management Programme at ICFAI Business School (IBS) is to enable its students to become future industry leaders by instilling in them the behavioural and techno-managerial skills to perform in all situations.
The elements that make leadership development successful at IBS are:
- The focus on all-round development of the students, with equal importance being given to academic learning with case-based and project-based learning; student activities which are the heartbeat of IBS; high importance to soft skills training and encouraging students to work on live projects.
- At all the IBS campuses Students are encouraged to take part in the student club activities. The clubs are spanning across domain, cultural and social outreach etc. By participating in extra-curricular activities, students develop critical leadership competencies essential for corporate careers.
- Soft Skills training courses are embedded into the programme structure and are graded. They help the students build leadership attributes such as communication skills, assertiveness and conflict management and social skills.
- The unique 14-week Summer Internship Programme of IBS helps students get early exposure to working life.
Which domains will be the most lucrative for management students over the next few years?
The world of business is fast moving into the age of automation, technology digitisation, Analytics and Remote Working. All management domains, be they Marketing, Finance, HR or Operations, are being transformed through AI and Analytics. Management Students who pick up the hard competencies of Analytics and understand their relationship with their selected domain can look forward to bright careers in the areas of FinTech, Valuation, Marketing Analytics, HR Analytics and so on. B-Schools must proactively blend analytics and new concepts in management education. It is equally important to sensitise students to adapt to new working modes such as remote-working and hybrid platforms, gig working and entrepreneurship, which are the order of the day and of coming times.
Has industry collaboration with academia improved over the years, and has it helped to get better placements?
IBS has been highly proactive in its industry connect. With a strong industry-academia association that includes some of the best top management professionals, its recruiter network that has only grown over the years and its global alumni base, give IBS an edge over other B-Schools in getting the best jobs for its students. Industry collaboration was kept alive this year through over numerous webinars, Guest Lectures, and Fireside Chats. Certification Programmes were conducted by inviting industry experts as facilitators, which helped students add to their skill-base and acquire promising careers.
In a futuristic move, IBS formed an Advisory Board comprising of top management professionals from its recruiter network to advise the B-School on Matters of contemporary curriculum and ways to bring the management programme closer to current and future industry requirements.
IBS took the lead in developing several certification programmes in collaboration with industry experts on requisite, job-specific skills. Some of the certification programs include Data Analytics, Digital Marketing, Financial Modelling, Power BI, EY-CAFTA, Versant, Real Estate Management, Contemporary Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Corporate Credit Analysis and Credit Ratings, HR Analytics, and SQL. The certification programmes were segregated into knowledge-based and skill-based modules and further classified as Industry-Expert Led, Corporate Led and Masterclass Series.
Tell us about the plans for growth of the institute in the next few years and how far will it focus on research and development?
In the coming years, our vision is to take IBS to greater heights and to transform our students into resilient, adaptable leaders who can change according to industry demands and who are ever willing to imbibe new skills and competencies as the world of work expands.
Our thrust on research, case writing and authoring books continue with equal rigour through participation in and by organising international research conferences and enabling our Faculty to engage in meaningful research, which will in turn lead to advanced content in management learning. Over the last two years, we continued our learning by organising several Faculty Development Programmes on Research and Analytics. Faculty Members are encouraged to publish and present papers on international platforms as well as to share their learning with the fraternity.