Transforming Management Education

I have started categorising people into two – BG and AG (no longer BC and AD!); 'Before Google' and 'After Google'. These two are very different, as distinct as chalk and cheese! They are born into different environments, different worlds, different contexts. Their thinking is largely conditioned by the environment in which they live(d). Their aspirations and expectations are vastly different. The AGs, in particular, appear to be aliens to those who are BGs. BGs do not understand the AGs – perhaps a very few do!

The AGs live in a world that is mostly uncertain, complex, unstructured, and ambiguous – many people call this the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world. Research studies on the so called 'millennials' or the ‘Gen-Y’ show that these AGs have perceptions that is based not on the past, but the present and the future; not on the theoretical foundations, but on practical applications; not on ‘what was/is’ but ‘what can be’. It is this group of AGs who are learners of today. So, how will conventional classroom delivery of syllabus contents meet the requirements and expectations of these AGs?

In my view, particularly in management education, ‘lecture’ method should be restricted to not more than 30% of teaching and the remaining 70% should comprise methods that engages the learner in the process of learning. ‘Massive Open Online Courses’ or MOOCs provide a great opportunity to the learners for self-learning. MOOCs provide an affordable and flexible way to learn new skills. ‘Flipped Classroom’ is another methodology for ensuring achievement of expected learning outcomes. This provides for the learners to be an integral part of the teaching-learning process through intense discussions and critical questioning. Use of audio and visual clips can enhance learning. In other words, it is of importance that the learner is actively engaged in the learning process. It is necessary for the teacher to recognise and use the conceptual framework of David Kolb and the learning styles.

Ultimately, the purpose of education, in my view, is to imbibe the ability to question critically, to distinguish between right and wrong, to learn and share new knowledge, to acquire new skills, and to internalise all these for becoming a vastly desirable human. Technology is impacting education in a big way. The ‘how’ part of education is undergoing never-before changes – the teaching methodology of the past is no longer adequate to meet the challenges thrown by advancements in technology. It is the responsibility of teachers to recognise the changes and embrace technology not only to survive but to stay relevant.

by Prof Balasubramanian