Our faculty are no strangers to distance teaching-learning using technology. More than a decade ago, IIMB was the pioneer in offering a weekend degree programme for the software industry simultaneously in Bengaluru and Chennai, with two-way video and audio using ISRO satellite technology, much before streaming video became commonplace. IIMB also became the pioneer of massive open online courses (MOOCs) in business and management in India in 2014. Today, we offer 50 management courses and customise many more.
We adopted a structured approach to manage the Covid-induced online transition. We quickly put together a team of our most tech-savvy and experienced online teachers and the chairs of our key academic programmes to chart out our approach. Feedback from faculty suggested that they would be most comfortable teaching in a classroom setting and that they would like to have as clear a view of the students as possible. So, we rapidly upgraded the infrastructure in 20 classrooms to include a large screen to see the students, a large digital writing board and another monitor to follow the chat.
We trained online learning facilitators—staff to help the faculty move between modes in the classroom. Our core team offered a series of workshops to faculty to help them make the best use of the available technology and the features of the online platform. Faculty were also encouraged to make modifications in their courses, pedagogy and evaluation to suit the new medium. The feedback I have suggests that these efforts paid off. Both faculty and students admit that the experience has been much better than expected. Yet, challenges remain.
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