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Creating a cohesive digital ecosystem

Professor PD Jose, Chair, IIMB Digital Learning, and Faculty in the Strategy area at IIM Bangalore highlights the focus on online learning and how the use of technology has improved program delivery as well as reach and scale

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IIMB’s smart campus is probably among the most technology enabled campuses in India, both in terms of IT infrastructure as well as academic infrastructure. “The vision is to create a cohesive digital ecosystem to manage both the administrative academic infrastructure across the student life cycle in a seamless manner,” says Prof PD Jose, Chair, IIMB Digital Learning & Faculty Strategy, IIM Bangalore, adding that the campus is fully Wi-Fi enabled, an ERP system has been implemented to cover both administrative as well as academic activities, including library access as well as conducting exams with virtual proctoring.

Administratively, the implementations have made it easier for the students to most effectively utilise their time in the campus – from the lecture capture facility that allows students to review lectures outside the classroom hours to electives are chosen using an online bidding system. “Students can bring in their digital devices to the campus and or less seamlessly connect to the institute’s IT systems,” adds Prof Jose.

In recent times IIMB has been looking at the use of technology to improve program delivery as well as reach and scale. Prof Jose remarks that a good example of this is the lead that IIMB has in offering Massive open Online Courses (MOOCs). The institute has built recording studios as well as virtual classrooms to facilitate this process.

Online learning
At IIMB, the online learning design includes hands-on exercises for both students and teachers to get involved, and an actively maintained discussion forum for students to feel something like a classroom connect. “The institute also has adopted a blended approach to learning, where the classroom experience is integrated with online modules – giving students a great deal of flexibility, and time for holistic discussions in class,” mentions Prof Jose, pointing out that an interesting variation of this is the Flipped Classroom, where theoretical material or case studies are studied by students outside the classroom using online resources, and the physical classroom is a place for discussion and de-brief. Another interesting initiative is the case class recording lab, which again uses the concept of blended learning to allow students to have a hands-on experience.

Highlighting IIMB’s digital initiatives programme, Prof Jose remarks that IIMBx is founded on the philosophy that everyone – irrespective of financial or locational constraints – should have access to quality education. “Led by IIMB faculty, IIMBx uses digital learning tools to enable anytime, anywhere learning in a global classroom. What started as an idea to go digital has now grown into one of the country’s most significant hubs for online learning,” states Prof Jose, informing that the first course was offered on edX in 2015. In 2016, IIMB was appointed as a National Coordinator for management courses on SWAYAM, the national learning portal launched by the Ministry of Human Resources Development. Simultaneously, IIMB also started offering courses on the IIMBx Open edX platform. Since then the learner base has grown to about 10,00,000 learners from over 190 counties.

Prof Bose believes the following technologies will play a significant role in the education sector:

– Artificial Intelligence: From supporting students to giving insights to learner engagement to teachers, AI will transform the learning process
– Augmented reality: Providing visual simulation which gives the students’ experiences of objects, places and theories in a whole new way
– Learning technologies to help disabled learners: Audio books, Amazon Echo and Google play interacts with students and facilitates learning
– App based learning: Learners want their learning needs on the go which works offline as well and mobile app is the answer.

A few of the technologies IIMB is looking at in the near future are : end-to-end programme management via a robust platform; Artificial Intelligence; App based learning and more effectively migrating on to the cloud.

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