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This is the age of Pandemics. In the recent past, we have witnessed a host of them namely, Spanish flu, Japanese Encephalitis, SARS, MERS, H1N1 (bird flu/swineflu), Ebola, Nipah, Dengue, Malaria, Poliomyelitis, Smallpox, Cholera, Bubonic & Pneumonic plague recurring and killings thousands. Most of the pandemics, driven by mutated forms of viruses and other harmful pathogens are endemic. They often keep affecting human populations around the world.  COVID-19 however is a very different disease and has for the first time been tackled by lockdown by almost the entire world. Education, especially business education has to draw several lessons from this pandemic. Business school curriculums from now onwards must include both disaster management and immunity building to ensure better management of any such recurrence.

This crisis has also brought to fore the need for innovative pedagogical tools and effective digital technologies for teaching, training, research and academic administration. We at IMS, Ghaziabad have used adaptive technology tools such as Avaya, Zoom, Google Duo and Skype to ensure that our academic sessions and admissions for the ongoing and next academic year, respectively are not affected.   However, this intervention was merely an online extension of what we were doing offline.

Over the next few years we plan to work out a comprehensive strategy to deliver business education more effectively. The entire pedagogical approach is being relooked at. Earlier this year, our faculty members from Information Technology Area apart from launching a two year PGDM programme in Big Data Analytics developed online content for training 50,000 Indian citizens in basic computer skills using high end learning management systems of our partner CSC-Academy under an MoU. CSC-Academy specializes in preparing and imparting online educational programmes for rural citizens. The programme which will be rolled out on April 30, 2020 has been a major learning experience for all members of Faculty involved.

Despite best health care systems epidemics & pandemics shall continue to scar the mankind. Yet, COVID-19 and the ensuing lockdown may have a positive fallout. For the first time in India most citizens have been forced to work from home and it has brought about a sea change in the attitude of both employers and employees. One realization is the different skill sets required by both managers and workers when they work from home and from different locations. Theories of organizational behavior along with team work and leadership are being revisited as the older theories do not align with the current scenario. It also has brought to fore the need for effective cyber physical systems in managing businesses and our lives.

This experience may expedite the onset of Education 4.0 on the lines of Industry 4.0. Probably it has set a stage for a change for the better as both carbon emissions and air pollution levels would fall due to fewer employees commuting to work. It would also create a workplace which follows principles of socio-physical distancing without losing touch. Apart from video conferencing on 5G platforms, we would be forced to use virtual, augmented and mixed reality along with artificial intelligence, analytics, internet of things and cloud computing to work from home. Education sector must change with times and immediately begin preparing the workforce for tomorrow’s world driven by a different skill set supported by cyber physical systems.

It is high time business school curriculums incorporate key technologies in their curriculum such as block chain, 3D Printing, Analytics, APIs, DevOps and many more which will be required by the industry and economy in the digitized world. Business education must also integrate online courses with offline support on these key technologies along with all the conventional courses in Finance, Marketing, Operations & Human Resource Management. The learning models must have a universal applicability in both urban and rural areas. While designing curriculums care should be taken that the courses follow a pedagogy where rote learning is discouraged. The focus should be on analyzing concepts, evaluating alternative solutions and ensure that the learner who is a future manager is able to create new models for organizations sustainability and growth for a better tomorrow.

Prof. Alok Pandey

Director-Institute of Management Studies, Ghaziabad.

Read More about Prof. Alok Pandey here - https://www.mbarendezvous.com/directors-interview/interview-with-prof-alok-pandey/

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