06 Jul 2020 20:45 IST

Our experience is that in-class learning is superior to online

Prof G Raghuram, Director, IIM Bangalore, explains why face-to-face teaching is more effective

Business schools around the country have been forced to take their classes online as the Covid-19 pandemic swept the country. While there are obvious advantages to online classes, they cannot replace the dynamics associated with face-to-face teaching, espcially a management course. Prof G. Raghuram, Director, IIM Bangalore, explains why in-class teaching and learning is superior to online classes.

What would you say are the pros and cons of online classes for B-schoolers?

The main advantages of online classes are access and convenience. The disadvantage is to the extent that many subjects which build on critical thinking require a lot more face-to-face discussion between the instructor and the participants and among the participants. In such courses, the online tends to have lesser learning effectiveness.

In courses which are more knowledge-driven, the differential in learning between online and in-class can be reduced. Finally, given that many parts of the country have difficult in bandwidth and power, the online classes are proving to be a challenge.

Of course, now there is no alternative, because of the pandemic, but post-Covid-19 will B-schools look to carry on a bit of teaching online as well?

Our assessment based on the initial experience over the past two months is that in-class would be superior to online, both from the perspective of the participants/ students and the faculty. Hence, we would look to starting in-class as soon as possible.

What would you say classroom teaching has going for it, what are the dynamics of the learning interface... if you can list out the pros.. presumably, there are no cons to this, or are there?

Classroom teaching has many things going for it. The interaction, the body language, the ability to finetune the pace and emphasis of delivery, the ability to sense which questions must be taken right away versus which questions can be postponed or taken offline are all important aspects that benefit classes, which especially have critical thinking as an important learning paradigm.

How many students has IIMB on boarded for the academic year and online classes are on for?

We have on-boarded about 75 students of the two-year weekend PGPEM (Post Graduate Programme in Enterprise Management) programme. The second year of the PGPEM has 74 students who have started online classes, and 73 students of the one-year EPGP are doing online classes.

The second year PGP/MBA students are still on their summer internship. As of now, classes are being planned online from July.

Did you have to give an orientation to your professors as well on how to handle online classes? And, have students also adapted to it?

Yes, we did have to give an orientation. We did this by setting up a committee to drive digital learning. Support staff have also been trained. Students have been given orientation sessions. Continuous feedback is being taken from the students to see in what ways we can improve the learning effectiveness.

What about your Executive MBA? Are those students happier with the online learning than the fresh MBA aspirants, given that they are an experienced lot and also pressured for time and commutes?

Not really. Most of the students are willing to make the time commitment for in-class learning and physical interaction of groups. We still do not have the experience regarding fresh MBA aspirants.