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Things we can expect from a career in academics in 2018

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

By Prof R S S Mani, Vice President – Institutional Development, ITM Group of Institutions

In my view, higher education is going through a churn & 2018 -2019 will be defining years for both engineering & management streams.

I strongly feel that both the engineering programme in its current format has reached saturation point and need to be reinvented for survival in the long run .The demand for doing an Engineering degree would continue; however the aspiring students would now carefully choose those institutions with a good brand value & good faculty .Here is where the pressure will be on faculty to strive continuously to unlearn, learn & relearn in order to remain relevant and contemporary!

Further all institutions need to relook at the MBA curriculum and revisit the same and make it more industry relevant .Besides faculty of management schools need to develop newer skills of classroom delivery as they are no more the single source of conceptual inputs thanks to google .Hence they need to now redefine their role as a facilitator & enable of learning and not the disseminator .This will also mean that the management teacher has now to play the role of expert interpreter , analyst and evaluator of various approaches to management ..Thus the pressure will be more on the teacher to learn more & more to keep abreast of the latest trends, practises and such and be able to guide the student.

Excellence in Higher education & high quality is only possible if we have the best of teachers .The most important step that needs to taken at the macro level in our country is to position teaching as an attractive option& should be given its place of pride as an employment option . Sad but true , the teaching profession is often seen as a last choice career option or one that executives can pursue after their retirement . We need to position teaching as a premium career option and provide best facilities similar to those we see at the corporate sectors.

A career in academics would necessitate sound knowledge of e learning platforms and also the ability to use various online resources to make learning more effective in the classroom .The use of online learning portals & interactive learning platforms such as khan academy ,coursera, Edx, MIT open courseware can make the learning experience more enriching and meaningful for both the student and the teacher .Thus the faculty have now to move away from over dependance on PowerPoint towards use of such interactive learning platforms .

An unfortunate reality that we need to soon realise & accept is that many educational institutions will see closure; thus faculty may find themselves without a stable job. Thus there will be more jobs on a part time basis or retainer or assignment basis but full time jobs may be on the decline .Thus I would recommend to everyone to focus on rescaling oneself and also acquire additional competencies in emerging areas to remain relevant .Areas like business analytics , data sciences ,digital marketing and such are the high thrust areas currently & It would be ideal to look at related areas to ones specialisation .Let us understand and accept that the approach to education & academics has changed to a great extent .The earlier model centred around the teacher as the main source of knowledge who would then share it to all the students in the classrooms and then test their understanding via the exam system .However the current scenario has changed the role of the teacher to be a enabler & clarifier and NOT the source anymore .Thus the students now learn at home & understand and seek clarifications in the classroom .Thus the new age teacher has to be better equipped and smart enough to satisfy the queries and doubts of the students to gain their confidence and establish credibility.

To summarise, a career in education would be more challenging and demanding and hence is strongly recommended to those who have a serious bent of mind towards academics .It cannot be seen as a comfortable & cushy career with limited working hours and minimal stress. Further a career in this area would necessarily need a PhD qualification for growth and stability.


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