"Technology Is the Driving Force of Teaching" - Vishnu Vivek

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1. Tell us more about your experience as an educator.

After completing my MBA from National Institute of Technology -Trichy, I joined the corporate world. During my stint with Tata Consultancy Services, I got the opportunity to work with the Academic Interface Program (dealing with campus relationships) and Initial Learning Program (ILP is the onboarding training program) of TCS.

I enjoyed being in campuses recruiting students and also had a chance to mould them at the TCS training centres. Since TCS recruits in bulk had the opportunity to interact with hundreds of youngsters.

After spending a decade in the corporate side, I understood that my true passion lies in teaching. In 2015, I wrote the National Eligibility Test conducted by UGC and was fortunate enough to clear it. Moved full time into Academia after that. Currently moulding young managers of Asian School of Business, Trivandrum.

I am also involved with various social activities undertaken by youth organizations in Kerala. Kerala was rampaged by floods back to back during the last two years and it was the student community which rose to the occasion working in tandem with the official machinery of Kerala. And I am glad to be part of these vibrant crowd-makes me believe that our country has a great future.

2. What is your opinion of the Indian education system and how would you like to change that?

Currently, the Indian education system is a rat race. In India, first career preference is for Engineering & Medicine. Everything else is secondary. Rarely does the interest of the student taken into consideration. (I should add that things are changing now).

Again there is a lot of emphasis on by hearting and reproducing in exams just for sake of marks without a clear understanding of the real-time use of a concept. Had many instances wherein the average 70 percentile fellow topping internal training of TCS because there the focus is on practical aspects.

Also in western countries, they don’t look down upon failures in education space. Most of the successful Technology companies worldwide were started by people who were considered “failures" going by their college degrees. 

In India too the scenario is changing with current youth being more assertive about their career choices. With the advent of the digital economy, there is a plethora of jobs requiring new skill sets (e.g. AI, Analytics etc). This I believe will lead to a radical shift in the education system as well.

Already IIT Madras has announced an online BSc program in Data Science-no age limit, anyone who has completed 12th (English, Maths mandatory) can enrol for the course. The course comes with multiple entries and exit points. Students can get a certificate, diploma, and degree based on when they exit the course. I believe this is just the start point of an educational revolution in our country.

3. What changes in the teaching methodologies have you seen in recent times?

Gamification has had a huge impact on the overall education scenario worldwide. The transformation of concepts into storyboards and the following visualization has gone a long way in making students grasp difficult concepts. With the advent of MOOC's learning has surpassed barriers.

All-Ivy League institutions have open online courses which are extremely popular with students worldwide. Closer to home, various adult literacy programs have been initiated to ensure that those who missed out basic education can complete the same.

Another welcome development is the evolution of Outcome-Based Education. In this methodology, the outcome of each educational course is determined and course objectives and course activities are mapped to outcomes thereby ensuring bidirectional traceability.

This goes a long way in ensuring the quality of education. The creation of NIRF framework for Institutional Ranking by Ministry of Human Resource Management also a big step in this regard.

4. How does education help one do well in their career?

People think education is about marks only. In reality, education is about transforming one into an individual capable of facing all challenges in life. For example, how does one work with classmates to achieve a common goal-very imperative for job oriented courses.

This team skill is a key trait in a corporate scenario, hence it is keenly observed during GD/Interviews.  One cannot learn this by himself or herself-it has to be taught in a classroom scenario. Social traits like empathy, learning by sharing are other offshoots of education.

Again if one is fortunate to study in tier one institute it helps. If one is not fortunate and still has the mindset to work hard, he/she can still come up in life. That is also the goal of education. Education is a sure shot means of improving the social status of a person.

Every year we hear success stories of students topping the toughest exam in India-Civil Services Exam conducted by UPSC. And many are from lower strata of society, it is education which compelled them to compete and excel in the highest competitive exam in India.

With the rapid changes in technology, the need to upgrade oneself to stay relevant is very important. Career Progression happens only with the acquisition of new skill sets -so education never stops.

5. Do you think teaching as a profession is viewed at par with corporate jobs?

Unfortunately in India teaching is not a preferred career - except for state-run institutions and few elite private ones, the pay scale of teachers is dismal ( I have not included teachers who are part of IIT JEE coaching institutes here as I do not see entrance coaching as pure-play teaching).

Infect I have seen many passionate youngsters join teaching and then quit because of financial pressures. In fact, even I had to delay my entry because I wanted to financially secure first. Teachers in India have great social status, but it doesn’t pay especially in the private sector.

Every year a good bunch of talented teachers move abroad for better pay which is a loss to the country. The pay scale of some school teachers is lower than a clerk in the government sector-a painful reality. This being the case, a comparison with the corporate sector is futile.

6. How can we adopt technology to make teaching more effective?

A great question in the context of COVID. The Indian education system has always resisted changed but a quantum jump of usage of ICT in education was achieved to the inevitable reality of not being able to conduct classroom sessions in India.

In fact, technology is the driving force of teaching at this point. We see primary school kids having classes using platforms like Google Meet, MS teams etc. The digital boards have taken off in a big way. Seminars and Conference have made way for Webinars. Even AGM's of top-notch corporates like Reliance and Tata Group are now being conducted through tech platforms. Private players like Byju's have tapped into Edu content space in a big way.

Tech is one way wherein we can reduce the divide between rural and urban India. A course by Khan Academy is accessible to any student in India. Content in the local language is available for free in plenty on YouTube. State Education Departments are conducting classes through virtual channels that are being beamed to living rooms via Free to Air, DTH & Online platforms. Even University exams are being conducted online. Hence technology is the lifeline of education now.

7. Why does India need more educators like you?

I believe the best way to help a person is to make himself or herself self-sustainable. That’s the best social service one can do. The kind of satisfaction one gets by helping a needy to stand in his/her feet can’t be expressed in words.

I just know that it is much beyond the happiness that I got when I was part of the corporate rat race. I will never claim that I am an excellent educator- there are much better than me. But India does need good educators, that too in dozens to mould the next-gen.

Interview by - Benil Joseph

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