IIMs plan online semester
Most of the Indian Institutes of Management are planning to conduct classes and exams online for the next six months, having reckoned that the Covid-19 crisis would not blow over anytime soon.
Institute directors, faculty members and officials told The Telegraph they were ready with a model to teach all the courses, including their signature MBA courses, through videoconferencing for one semester.
IIM Tiruchirappalli director Bhimaraya Metri said his institute would offer its executive MBA programme for working executives in the online mode, and similar plans were under way for the regular MBA course too.
“We can conduct online exams too, allowing students to take their tests from home under some kind of remote proctoring. We also plan to prepare e-books for the students,” Metri said.
The leading IIMs have made similar plans. “The possibility of resuming face-to-face classroom teaching looks bleak. Even if the institute reopens, the parents will not want to send their wards,” an IIM Ahmedabad professor said.
“If we resume classes with a few students, and one positive case surfaces, there will be huge interference from the district administration. The online model is the best option in the present situation.”
Anindya Sen, an IIM Calcutta professor, said industry must be brought on board to accept the online mode of education. “There has to be a realisation that online teaching must be accepted as mainstream teaching and not a stopgap arrangement,” he said.
“Governments, industry, education regulators and institutions should come together to work out an acceptable standard of online teaching.”
Sen acknowledged that online education limits the coverage of content, makes the monitoring of students during class difficult, and disadvantages students from economically weaker sections.
He said a lot of investment would be necessary to ensure that impoverished students can access online teaching.
Metri too admitted the problem, saying students in Tier-II cities would be disadvantaged too because of the lower quality of Internet connections.
“One solution is for the students to use the available online material prepared by government institutions to compensate for the learning gap (created by the difficulties of accessing videoconference classes),” Metri said.
While the IIMs usually start their MBA classes in June, this year the classes may begin by the end of July or the first week of August.
The IITs are yet to make any such contingency plans but are holding regular senate meetings to assess the situation. Currently, the premier tech schools are considering how to grade students for the last semester.
“The IITs feel the situation may improve and that it may be possible to conduct normal classes and exams around July,” an IIT Bombay professor said.