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(iStockphoto)

Professors are enrolling in short online courses to reskill, stay up-to-date

New modules are helping lecturers better their classroom methods too, and expand the scope of the subjects they teach.
By Krutika Behrawala | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON DEC 26, 2018 05:02 PM IST

Chemistry, e-business, human rights, social inclusion and climate change — both online and offline refresher courses in subjects like these are helping college and university professors refurbish their skills, spruce up their CVs and pass on updated information to students.

Last month, SGTB Khalsa College at Delhi University launched an online refresher course in chemistry. It’s the first digital course on the subject, designed and developed by the National Resource Centre of Chemistry (NRCC) of the HRD ministry.

“Chemistry knowledge is growing fast and so, many new sub-disciplines like astrochemistry, food chemistry and green chemistry have emerged,” says AK Bakhshi, chairman of the NRCC. “So, we’ve included modules that focus on the latest developments in the subject, safe disposal of chemicals and greener alternatives to chemicals.”

The course is taught via video tutorials and online quizzes. The centre sought inputs from academicians like Bharat Ratna awardee CNR Rao and Ved Prakash, former chairman of the University Grants Commission.

The course also includes ICT (or information and communications technology) tools such as how to create animation storyboards or audio-visual recordings, how to track a learner’s performance online, etc, to help teachers improve their chemistry training methods.

In all, over 2,300 teachers have signed up for the free, online course that ends in February. “Before this, teachers used to attend offline refresher courses but many times, they could not find time or could not get leave for the same,” says Vimal Rarh, chemistry faculty and coordinator for the NRCC.

Besides the sciences, refresher courses in business and commerce are also finding takers. Earlier this month, Khyati Vora completed a 21-day on-site refresher course in business management from Bhagat Phool Singh Mahila Vishwavidyalaya in Haryana, a state university recognised by the UGC. Vora, who has been teaching an introduction to business and management course at the BCom level at the Hinduja college in Mumbai for a decade, says she wanted to know more about how business management works differently in areas such as e-commerce and startups.

The course covered topics such as agro-tourism management, social media marketing and contemporary issues in the field of intellectual property rights. “The case studies were fascinating,” Vora says. “Even though commerce textbooks are revised periodically, they have barely any case studies. Here, the speakers shared real-world stories and that really makes sense for someone teaching IT and business management.”

Fellowships are also becoming an important gateway for professors to enhance their research and connect with a global community of experts in their field. Chirantan Chatterjee, associate professor of business policy and economics at the Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad is currently on the year-long National Fellows programme at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

“Since a fellowship lasts a full year rather than a week or a summer, it is even more satisfying and rewarding,” he says. “It’s also gratifying to be a student again and learn where the latest in research has moved, given that I finished my PhD at Carnegie Mellon in 2011, and it’s gratifying to contribute to the discussion as well.”

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