Experiential Learning at IMT Hyderabad
Apr 6, 2021 | Blog
Vinay Kumar K
Assistant Professor- Operations Mgmt, IMT Hyderabad
Tell me, I forget. Teach me, I remember. Involve me, I learn – Confucious
Learning through reflection on doing things has been one of the most instinctive and distinctive traits of mankind that has phenomenally aided its progress. In absence of formal education, knowledge through the centuries got disseminated through a pedagogical style that was action-oriented and on-the job. With the advent of modern education system, this style of teaching fell out of use for a great number of years. However, over years educators have realized that rote learning and lecture based pedagogical style have been highly ineffective in terms of assuring that the learning objectives are met. With shrinking attention spans of the millennial generation, the need to engage the students in a more creative manner emerged.
This led to the advent of participant centered experiential learning style of teaching which is based on the foundation of student engagement. This was previously done through carefully designed in-class activities using activity boards, stationery etc. As the role of technology in education gradually increased, so did the solutions available for experiential learning. The covid-19 pandemic and the resultant use of the online medium of teaching further provided impetus to the need for greater student engagement through use of technology. No wonder, experiential learning has become an integral part of business education as well. In this article I provide the various ways in which IMT Hyderabad is at the forefront of pedagogical innovation as far as participant centered and experiential learning is concerned.
It is important to understand the difference between experiential learning and participant centered pedagogical approach. Most business schools use this case-based pedagogy where the students apply management theory, concepts and insights in situations described in case studies. While this approach is participant centered, it is not necessarily experiential because the students are only theoretically assuming to be in the position for protagonist in that case and does not experience the repercussions of the decisions they are making in the process. Experiential learning, however, involves providing feedback to the learner about the repercussions of the decision they made before and most likely also require them to follow-up decisions in reaction to the results of the decisions that they have taken previously. As can be reckoned, using experiential learning in the classroom requires meticulous planning, more training and additional resources to implement.
With a firm belief that experiential learning is more effective in achievement of learning objectives, IMT Hyderabad has been at the forefront of this pedagogical innovation in business education. It fully empowers its faculty members to use of these modern pedagogical techniques by providing them the resources and also sponsoring training requirement, if any. Enough freedom is provided to faculty members to choose from a plethora of tools available. As a result, the Institute’s faculty members leave no stone unturned to ensure higher student engagement and achievement of learning objectives of the courses they are teaching.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of various experiential learning initiatives taken up by the Institute faculty members:
- Role plays & Debates: students are provided well defined roles to play in an in-class activity to simulate a realistic business situation. this could be in the context of say a business negotiation or a presentation to the top management by a middle level manager or students playing the role of an assembly line operator or students playing the role of a delivery personnel in a logistics function. These interactions not only create a lively classroom environment but drives home valuable lessons for the students in terms of how to or how not to behave in such situations. business role plays also have the additional charm of unpredictability as every student is different from each other and the role play may not go exactly as planned every time it is conducted. The subtle art of making sure that the key lessons of the role play are not lost in the cacophony of individual behavior is what the faculty members of IMTH have been trained for.
- Business Simulation: While role plays ensure that the students capture the essence of a decision-making situation, the full repercussions of the decision may not be readily available for the student to ascertain. For this purpose, faculty also use of computer based business simulations that are procured from HBS or other reputed sources, or in some cases designed by the faculty members themselves. this enables students interact and make life decisions and understand the impact of their decisions on performance metrics like profitability efficiency etc. These simulations help drive home the various uncertainties that can plague a business and what managers could do in wake of such uncertainties. Even lessons in failure could be driven home very effectively by using computerized business simulations. These simulations provide the students with a gamified environment which engages them very effectively.
- Content Creation: several courses that IMT Hyderabad require not just content consumption but content creation. this is not merely in terms of making presentations to the faculty members, but generating knowledge in a manner that is useful to the wider community at large. Students at IMT Hyderabad have Co-authored books, made short movies and written articles along with their faculty members. This not only challenges the students intellectually but also helps hone the presentation skills and writing skills that are essential in today’s day and age. The content thus generated is also used to provide feedback to the students. For example, In the Business Communication course, apart from direct evaluation of presentation and group discussions by the faculty instructor, videos of the activities are also captured. These videos are later reviewed to provide much more detailed and meaningful feedback to individual students.
- Economics Showcase: In the context of experiential learning, the area of Economics at IMT Hyderabad requires a special mention as they conduct an event called economic showcase where students present the real world economic learnings from different works of fiction like movies or non-fiction (like best seller books in economics) through different working models and collages. It gives students a chance to display both their creativity and conceptual knowledge.
- Clubs and Committees: Apart from the aforementioned initiatives, the Institute also facilitates a plethora of co-curricular and extracurricular activities through clubs and committees. these are fully conceptualized organized and executed by students that’s providing them with valuable lessons in event management, managing interpersonal relationships and managerial communication.
To be effective business managers, students have to understand the nuances and complexities of decision-making in organizational contexts. Merely presenting management literature theoretically to the student may not suffice to bring out wholesome perspective to the student. The use of experiential learning is therefore extremely essential in ensuring socially responsible business leaders emerge from the hallowed portals of IMT Hyderabad.
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