Education is the process of creating and inspiring learners. Like any other field driven by innovation, education too encounters problems. And innovation in such a vast field isn’t limited to one institute. It becomes important to exchange ideas on innovative practices and problems encountered across multiple institutes. For such collaboration, the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) holds meets attended by Vice Chancellors, university representatives and eminent speakers across zones twice a year. The latest meet of the South Zone (Southern states) universities was held on the 11th and 12th of December, 2015.
The chief guest for this meet was Prof. Dhirendra Pal Singh – Director of the National Admission and Accreditation Council (NAAC). Commissioner of Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), Mr. Bharat Lal Meena also graced the occasion with his presence. Butterfly Innovations’ Founder and Managing Director, Hemant Sahal and Chaitanya Prabhu, VP – Product Delivery and Support – CollPoll attended the event.
Here’s a Q&A session with Chaitanya Prabhu about his experience attending the meet
Good evening Chaitanya! A zonal meet to bring different universities on a common platform seems like a bright idea in itself! What all was discussed and debated?
Good evening! A common platform for discussing ideas and problems faced by various universities is a noble idea indeed! And that is exactly what the AIU Vice Chancellors’ Meet provided-discussions on education as a broad phenomenon. Present channels of information dispersal and future improvements were discussed.
The problems faced by institutions and industries which recruit college graduates were also high on the agenda.
Encountering and solving problems are a just indication that quality of education is being worked upon. What were the problems discussed?
Yes, problem solving sure can be said to be a quality management tool. The one prominent problem area in education discussed here was the skills-gap of an industry-ready employee and a graduate student. After a student graduates with a job offer, his recruiter company trains him for a brief period of time. Now, despite receiving quality training to be job-ready, the company still has to bear his training costs to get him competency-ready for his work-role. The biggest problem for the company is that regardless of investment of time and money, the productivity obtained from him during the training period is near null. This is a common problem employers are facing today.
Another problem area was information access. Students wanted to avail of study material online at an any-time, anywhere basis. While some institutes had made content available online, they faced streaming and upload issues because fast internet connectivity isn’t possible every time and everywhere.
What was the outcome of the discussions that ensued? What were the solutions proposed?
The skills-gap issue warranted encouraging experimentation, industrial practice and experience (internships and apprenticeships), redesigning of the examination pattern with more weightage towards practical and research work more than theory. Another solution discussed was to refresh communication channels between students, faculty, administrators and the industry to make students aware of industry-needs. Seminars and workshops by industry professionals would go a long way to communicate industry needs to students.
As for information access, use of cloud computing technology to make data, resources and information accessible on-demand was a solution discussed.
Interesting! Cloud-computing points towards the usage of technology. Were there any examples of similar technology being used in education?
Yes. Commissioner Bharat Lal Meena who is a former Principal Secretary- Higher Education, Karnataka State; spoke of the use of technology in collecting faculty and student attendance in government universities. A system of attendance alert to parents was implemented in many universities under his supervision. Many others also spoke of streaming recorded high definition (HD) lecture videos on smartphones and websites to students through the internet.
With the talk of digitized content, comes in the topic of digital technology. And with digital technology, CollPoll comes to mind. How do you think CollPoll will address these problems?
Today, there is excessive focus on creating and making educational content available for student use. With HD Video sharing, systems such as ERP, LMS and Attendance Management a large quantity of digitized content flows regularly from the faculty and administrator-side to students. There is no dearth of content providers online. However, connection of the administrator, faculty and student community with each other on a common digital platform is a vital need. If industry professionals are able to communicate their competency needs to administrators or even students directly, the skills-gap problem can be addressed.
Just making information available to students isn’t enough. Utilization of this information becomes crucial, and there might also be delays in processing the information before sending it. It is essential to make sure the right information reaches the right group of people at the right time. And that is where CollPoll as a two-way real-time communication platform will play a vital role.
What was your takeaway from the event as a whole?
The prerogative of this event was to get Vice Chancellors, representatives and other eminent and influential personalities in the south zonal education industry together for common discussion. This meet was aimed at discussing best practice models adopted across institutions, sharing of common concerns in education, discussion of solutions to them and sharing of opinions by prominent people of the education industry. The ultimate aim is to improve the Gross Enrolment Ratio (G.E.R) of all states in the south zone.
As a closing note, what impressed you the most about this meet?
Among everyone present there, a common passion to strive collectively for better quality education could be seen. That was the most impressive part for me. The essence of this meet can in fact be summed up by a quote by the Chancellor of Alliance University, Dr. Madhukar G. Angur, “Education for me, as it is for all of us is not just a profession. It is a calling, a passion that binds us all; a passion to inspire young minds through good quality of teaching.”
It was a pleasure talking to you about the meet Chaitanya! I am sure CollPoll will play a major role in innovating education in the upcoming future.