THE generation of knowledge is key to success in the modern world. All human problems related to health, engineering, social and other fields are probed systematically by scientists, researchers, and faculty members. All modern innovations are produced from University Libraries and Laboratories; therefore, India continuously invests in Higher Education Institutions to become a sustainable country in the region. In the developed world, students are considered an intellectual product, and the whole education system facilitates them to become leaders in their respective domains. Admission to various degree programs is given based on an Undergraduate entry test and interview (in some cases).
The testing system was introduced and the main reason was unreliable intermediate results. The students who can secure admission to the University; expect an enabling learning environment. Faculty Member is one of the main actors for developing the teaching and learning environment.He is considered a knowledge source, a role model, a motivator, an inspiring person, and has a kind personality to address all academic, professional, social, and emotional issues faced by the students during their stay at the University. Mostly, students excel in their studies if they are lucky enough to have at least one inspiring and motivating teacher at the University. He grooms their personality according to the demand of society and the market. He gives them confidence and pushes them to find new ways to look at scientific, social, and professional matters. Such faculty members are hired through a competitive process i.e. written tests and interviews. The Universities only select qualified and experienced faculty members. Those who are in entry-level faculty career positions may not have experience. Therefore, comprehensive pre-service training must equip them with pedagogical, assessment, and examination techniques. The National Academy of Higher Education (NAHE) regularly conducts such training for faculty members of different Universities. There is a need to make such training mandatory for all faculty members appointed as lecturers. Senior faculty members may develop customized modules on the necessary domains. These pre-service training should be linked with some incentive. The latest content in the relevant discipline was the major challenge to faculty members who used to teach before internet access. Nowadays, we have access to companion textbooks websites where the content in PowerPoint format is available along with tests. Therefore, the focus should be on content delivery for effective learning, which will help develop the discipline’s core concepts. Integrating the audio, video and simulated content helps to understand different concepts within a limited time. The focus should be on developing a scientific investigative approach that will help them probe scientific or social problems during higher studies. The current curriculum needs to adopt Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to complement class lectures and provide an opportunity to learn from highly qualified instructors.
Mostly, MOOCs are of 4 weeks. Therefore, one course may be considered against one assignment, which is an integral part of the semester system. The students may be engaged in reading and reviewing exercises to develop writing skills. Weblogs over Learning Management System (LMS) or University websites may be promoted for developing creativity. The LMS is part of the Technology made available in most Universities for providing access to content, electronic assessment, peer review, and sharing thoughts, feedback, or opinion with faculty members. It helps create a substitution to face to face learning as one has access to content, peers, and discussion forums where faculty members are responsible for responding to all questions or queries posted by the students. Recently, the government has taken multiple initiatives to improve the university teaching and research eco-system. The institutions are expected to develop collaboration on the Erasmus mounds pattern to benefit from the laboratories, libraries, and qualified human resources. The cooperation among the Universities for offering specialized courses through video conference and LMS will revolutionize our existing conventional teaching & learning techniques. The student societies, as promoted in the new undergraduate education policy, will further give confidence to students and can be a platform for discussing various scientific and social issues.
Universities in developed countries have such platforms and annually conduct competitions among the students, which helps to utilize students’ potential in various areas. Universities should be learning organizations that continuously improve their facilities and services and steer the institution according to its vision, mission, and objectives. The University leadership plays a pivotal role in this, but unfortunately, most of the appointments for the head of the institutions are carried out without consulting major stakeholders and considering their leadership capabilities. It is a time to revisit appointment criteria and mechanisms for assessing good governance performance during the first year of the appointment. The evaluation standards may be included in the offer letter and may have parameters for improving teaching and research environments. World over, higher education regulators ask for performance and quality assessment through the third party for independent and transparent evaluation. It not only compels them to perform for additional grants and other incentives. Last but not least however, such exercise is carried out only for International and National Donor projects but is not in place for regular recurring and development side projects.
(The author is EVS Lecturer at Govt Higher Secondary School Khellani Doda. Views are his own)