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Keeping Current

A B Kulkarni

Author: A B Kulkarni

Date: Sun, 2016-09-04 19:40

A good teacher is one who can connect with her audience. Some of the prerequisites for such a teacher are 1) subject knowledge and 2) a good understanding of the audience. Both these can change over time. If a teacher has to remain good over time, the challenge is to be current about the subject as well as have an insightful understanding of the changes taking place in the audience. Sometimes she might be teaching different age groups, sectors and people from varied backgrounds.  What are these challenges? There are many but, I will try to list those that I think are of prime importance in management education.

Each area gets wider by the day; e.g. each of the topics and sub-topics are now subjects of full time courses or sometimes programmes. How does one choose a specialisation? How deep do we go within a specialisation?  How does one keep track of the impact of other topics on one’s special field?

What about the impact of other areas on your area and specialisation? For example, the Return on Marketing Investment is an intersection of marketing, portfolio planning, resource allocation, cash flows, profit and shareholder value. Depth or Width?

Consumer behaviour requires a strong understanding of Behavioral Economics, Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology.  Depth or Width?  The answer probably lies in finding a balance which enables you to look at other fields only to the extent of their impact on your topic. Is this easy?

Big Data is coming at us in great volumes and velocity. How does each functional area handle this in terms of accessing and processing data and then decision making? This requires knowledge of data collection and processing methods and organisational adaptation to give responses in real time. Depth or Width?

Digital media has become a field in itself. Social Media Marketing, a field within it. How does one apply Social Media Marketing to non-profit organisations? Depth or Width?

The response to these challenges depends not solely on the individual but, is to a large extent dependent on the size and structure of the institution. A big institute with a large and varied student base can afford to have specialist faculty by topic and sector. This takes care of the Depth. The Width of knowledge of the individual faculty can come through continuing interaction among faculty, joint teaching and external inputs from industry and thought leaders. Is all this easy? No! But, there are examples of thought leaders among faculty. Such faculty members could become mentors for other faculty.




<p>This conflict is like the yin&nbsp;and the yang . Both are needed but in what proportions ? Does this change over time ? One way to address this issue is to accept the fact that human brain has a certain capacity to hold &nbsp;data , facts , knowledge etc . After a stage something must come out for something else to go in . This is the theory of the " conservation of brain power " , so to say .</p> <p>For example , what we learnt in the first to fifth standards is now being taught in the&nbsp;first to second standards , with several, omissions . For&nbsp;&nbsp;example , we were asked to do the experiment of Joseph Priestley , of establishing that air contains 20% oxygen . Do students even look&nbsp;at this now ? They have assumed this as a fact that needs no verification . Instead they might want to find out more about the speed on their braodband connection in their smarfones in standard IV .</p> <p>That reminds me of a proverb that we used to hear much of &nbsp;in childhood : every male child in Kerala is born with a typewriter in hand and a female child with a stethoscope . Now , owing to gender equality , all chilren are born with cell phones in their hands , the brand and the features could be the&nbsp;only difference .&nbsp;</p> <p>After the advent of simulations and computer modelling using the EXCEL , the&nbsp;days of writing computer programs to solve operations&nbsp;problems using differential equations or algorithms have taken a rest ( however algorithms maybe seeing&nbsp;a rebirth due to their increasing usage in Big Data analytics ) . One must now move on to simulation and computer applications and forget about the use of complex distribution assumptions for demand .</p> <p>Every faculty has to take a call on this and this is the best part about management education . Every faculty has to stay current , if not , he or she will be shocked to learn that&nbsp;students have switched off .&nbsp;</p>

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