„Teaching online is a different ball game all together compared to teaching in a classroom.“

29. August 2017
Lecturers talking: Prof. Dr. Rajesh Panda as a member of our adjunct faculty at SIBE

We are proud and honored to have won Prof. Dr. Rajesh Panda as a member of our adjunct faculty at SIBE. His professional responsibilities encompass leadership of the highly esteemed Symbioses Institute of Business Management (SIBM) campus in Bangaluru, India, teaching as a professor for marketing at SIBM, part time visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ranchi, business consulting for corporate clients such as CapGemini, John Deere, Avaya, McDonalds, Taco, Tyco, M&M, Godrej, HUL, ITC, Amdocs, Zensar, BMC Software, Mphasis, WNS, BACS, Wipro Allscripts, Eclerx etc., and reviewing of marketing books with Pearson Education and Tata McGraw-Hill education private limited.

At SIBE, Prof. Panda teaches very successfully with greatest respect and feedback from our students Methods of Empirical Social Research and Marketing in the online conducted M.A./MBA (USA) program at SIBE.

The interview was conducted shortly after his first-ever teaching engagement in the online program and provides a very interesting insight into the differences between classroom teaching and online teaching from an instructor’s perspective.

Dr. Panda, could you please tell us about your academic and professional background?

I am a graduate of Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad with a  Master’s degree in Agribusiness Management. I have also done my MA in Economics and PhD in Retailing. My areas of research include shopper buying behaviour, online retailing, globalisation, international trade etc.

  • Professor and Director at Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Bengaluru.
  • Adjunct faculty at Steinbeis-University Berlin (SUB)
  • Part time Visiting faculty at Indian Institute of Management, Ranchi

In the past, I got the opportunity to serve as a member of the Board of Examination for Symbosis International University (SIU), and as a member of Academic councils of SIU and Symbiosis Center for Distance Learning. I have also worked with various companies like Godrej, HUL, ITC, IBM, Amdocs, Zensar, BMC Software, Mphasis, Wipro, CapGemini, WNS, BACS, John Deere, Avaya, McDonalds, Praj Industries, Taco, Tyco, M&M, Allscripts, Eclerx etc. in corporate training/consulting/research. I am a reviewer of marketing books with Pearson Education and Tata McGraw-Hill education private limited.

My areas of interest in teaching are: International business, Global Strategy, International Economics, CRM, Retailing etc.

Since when have you been teaching at SIBE? What experiences teaching online did you make, so far? Can you describe the differences between teaching on ground and teaching online, at SIBE?

I am teaching „Methods of Empirical Social Research“ at SIBE. This is my first experience as a teacher on an asynchronous online platform.

Teaching online is a different ball game all together compared to teaching in a classroom. In a classroom scenario, it is comparatively easier to connect with students and communicate a concept. The situation is different in online format. The biggest challenge that I felt in online teaching was is to ensure that students are involved in the learning process and engaged in valid discussions on the portal.  In my view it is imperative to meet students on skype or on a phone call to build a personal connect and understand if they are going through any academic issues/problems.

Unlike in a classroom where my role as a teacher was mostly confined to the classroom, here in an online format, I had to check the posts on the portal and ensure that the discussions are moving in right direction. This was a completely different experience at all.

I believe a good teacher is a not only a great subject matter expert, but also a person with great communication skills and he is able to create humor in the class.  Now this is a challenge to create humor in an online environment, especially in an asynchronous learning environment. Moderation of the discussions on online is also a challenge.  However, to overcome this, an instructor has to make sure that he makes his presence felt on the discussions and guides the group in a logical direction.

Despite the obvious drawbacks, I think, online teaching is a brilliant way to connect people on different parts of the country/world in an academic environment. Technology has made it possible and may be this is the future of higher education. It does not require the instructor and the students to be present at the same time. Hence, it creates a great comfort and convenience to the participants as they learn while they are working.

What did surprise you about teaching online? Do you think it is difficult to teach online, when you cannot meet your students in person?

It was definitely challenging, if not difficult, to start teaching online. For a person like me, who loves to talk in the class and engage students in a moderated discussion, it was certainly surprising that I will not be talking at all while the students have to read/learn from the material posted on the forum. So for me, it was little bit of disconnect from the students when I started the first Unit. But from the subsequent unit, once I started interacting with the students on skype, the experience was completely different. I had a face to the posts on the discussion board and the platform did not seem to be that impersonal. Rather I could relate to all the discussions on the portal as if I am not reading a post, but listening to the student.  So retrospectively, I feel it is a myth that we cannot engage with students on an online platform, though the tactics are different from teaching in a classroom.

So in my opinion, it is not difficult, but certainly different and needs different skillsets that the instructor must acquire in due course of time to be a good instructor.

What is your impression of the students at SIBE, so far?

The learning environment in an online platform, besides the technology, depends on the quality of the teacher and the quality of the learner.

Students, or if we call them learners, of SIBE come from a very diverse background. I have students from completely different fields of work- law firms, automobile R&D, insurance companies etc. I feel this helps in bringing new ideas and new thoughts during the discussions on the portal, which is very valuable and crucial for cross-functional and cross sectorial learning.  As most of the students have substantial corporate experience, the discussions are rich in content and adds immensely to the collective group learning. The ideas that the students have for their management projects show their deeper knowledge in industry practices and their keen interest in learning.

So, it has been a pleasure and learning experience (not only a teaching experience) teaching at SIBE and guiding the students on their management projects.

Why would you recommend the dual degree M.A./MBA program of SIBE and Post University?

In this program, students get the best of the two worlds (Universities).  The M.A. at SIBE focuses on management research and application while the MBA at Post University focuses on learning business practice. This is an ideal combination in my opinion. Moreover, in this program students not only learn business practice, but also implement the same in terms of various management project papers and master thesis.

I feel this program has the right mix of knowledge and application that any budding business leader must aspire for and hence pursue the program.