TOWARDS BORDERLESS AND BLENDED LEARNING
MANAGEMENT EDUCATION WILL BECOME MORE FLEXIBLE AND RICHER WITH GLOBAL COLLABORATIONS AND INCORPORATION OF NEW PRACTICES REQUIRED TO DEAL WITH SOCIETAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL COMPLEXITIES
LIKE SO MANY THINGS, SHAKESPEARE had it right when he wrote “beware the Ides of March”. In March 2020, the pandemic plunged India into an unprecedented lockdown. When it became apparent that normalcy would not return soon, every industry and individual hunkered down and started planning for survival and revival. Ingenuity flowered as digital technologies came to the rescue in many cases, and business models were adapted to operate in this new reality.
The education sector also responded with alacrity. At the S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research (SPJIMR), we were able to shift to an online model within 48 hours of the lockdown. We progressed, programme by programme, to become fully operational, reconfiguring our content, instructional approaches and schedules.
SPJIMR’s approach is unique in how it blends
SPJIMR UNIQUELY BLENDS CLASSROOM EDUCATION WITH ITS SIGNATURE NON-CLASSROOM LEARNING PROGRAMMES, SUCH AS THE PERSONAL GROWTH LAB AND RURAL INTERNSHIPS
classroom education with its signature non-classroom learning programmes, such as the personal growth lab, rural internships, and so on. Reinventing such non-classroom activities posed an additional challenge and required us to approach their redesign creatively. Several of our students moved back to their home locations. We made sure that all our students, regardless of where they were, had the appropriate technology. Constant communication from our programme teams to the student community was the key in maintaining morale during these difficult times. Our industry partners responded magnificently as well—we completed internships and placements entirely online. Looking back, it is mind-boggling to think that we have students who are graduating with more time spent online than in person with their classmates and faculty.
As soon as some optimism crept in, we started our Back-to-Campus initiatives to be ready for inperson education to resume. We put in place top grade safety measures and processes to enable the full functioning of our programmes in either a hybrid or in-person setting. At present, even though classes remain online, many of our students are safe on campus and benefiting again from a sense of community, even as they adhere to safety protocols. Going forward, as the local government permits institutions of higher learning to resume in-person classroom with certain conditions, we are preparing to resume classes in hybrid mode, with the expectation that many students will be attending in person.
The pandemic also made us come to grips with larger strategic disruptions facing the education sector. The education sector is undergoing a profound change regarding expectations and alternatives on how to deliver education and when. These
changes stem from new digital technologies, the rise of many new education providers, alternative aggregation and delivery models, and the expectation that upskilling is a lifelong process.
While the two-year MBA/ PGDM programme will continue to remain a primarily in-person programme, it will become more flexible and richer in content with global collaborations and incorporation of the new practices and mindsets required to deal with unprecedented environmental, societal and technological complexities.
With the rise of digital technology, physical infrastructure has ceased to be a constraint for providing quality education. We will see the rise of entirely online or blended delivery models that organisations and individuals will take advantage of in their quest for just-in-time and lifelong learning. We expect organisations to enrol more of their employees at the junior and middle levels in blended programmes. This implies a broader range of programmes that SPJIMR must provide.
Individuals, too, will show greater urgency in pursuing their lifelong education goals and shaping their careers. Disruptions from the pandemic have forced people to adapt either upskilling to stay relevant or reinventing themselves entirely. This has highlighted more than ever that education is a lifelong process. With the new delivery modes available, just-in-time and lifelong education, self-driven by individuals, is going to be a key driver in the education sector.
Learners have choices—higher education has become borderless. Staying learner-centric, through greater interaction with industry and society and a heightened focus on practice-oriented research, is the key to making sure that SPJIMR continues to deliver value. These are challenging but exciting times. The SPJIMR mission—to influence practice and promote value-based growth—has never been more relevant.
WITH THE RISE OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY, PHYSICAL INFRASTRUCTURE HAS CEASED TO BE A CONSTRAINT FOR PROVIDING QUALITY EDUCATION