Prof. Meera Shanker, Director, JDBI of Management Studies, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai, India.
PhD (Organizational Behavior & Human Resource),Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur ( IIT, Kanpur), India. MA (Psychology), BA (Sanskrit, English and Psychology) University of Gorakhpur, India
Meera Shanker ( PhD) is a Senior Professor in the area of Organizational Behavior and Human Recourses Management at the JD Bajaj Inst. Mgmt. SNDT Women’s University , Mumbai. Currently working as a Director, JDBIMS, SNDTWU. She has worked as a trainer in Oriental Insurance Corporation, as an Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor and Head, Department of Education Management, JDBIMS, SNDTWU. Earlier she held faculty positions at several other academic institutions as well as conducted workshops at various places like NITIE, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), URICM, Gandhinagar, Gujarat.
Dr. Shanker has over 22 years of active teaching, consultancy and research experience in the field of Organizational Behavior, Human Resources management, Leadership, Motivation, Entrepreneurship, Stress Management, Emotional Intelligence, organizational culture etc.
She has authored two books on organizational Behavior. To her credit, she has over 40 referred Journal Research papers and research articles. She delivered over 38 presentations at several national and international level conferences, which includes – Austria, Germany, Belgium, Japan, Canada, Indonesia, England, and South Africa, etc. Her research work is indexed in scopus, jstor and ebsco. She is a member of various professional bodies.
While the covid-19 situation has put forward many challenges currently, it has also created great opportunities. So, we are putting together an industry story on ‘Opportunities & challenges for universities, institutes & colleges in a Covid-19 world’. The story is aimed to feature on popular media channels such as Exchange 4 Media, Social Samosa and Times Network. We are making efforts to get bytes of leaders in the education domain and we would be privileged to have your views on it.
- What have been your key challenges during the lockdown?
We were not well prepared or I can say could not foresee that we may have to work from home during Lockdown, which is still continuing to curb and slow down the Impact of Corona Virus. Nobody knows how many days it will go on. Everything has become challenging, starting from admissions, placement, maintaining quality of education, examinations etc.
Social isolation was disturbing in the beginning. Working from home was challenging for everyone (Staff) but they all accepted and adapted to the situation very fast. It was understood that we have to change in the modern era and we started using modern tools to cope up. Balancing admin and household activities was overwhelming in the beginning. Students who are staying in remote locations have to come to internet connectivity issues. For final year students, exams are yet to be conducted. Some students are facing problems due to financial condition of their family ( parents) during the pandemic. Hostels have to be closed down therefore students had to leave for their hometowns.
- How do you see digital technologies helping you overcome these challenges?
Digital technologies have helped us immensely, to the extent that we do things , which we could not do earlier, we quickly started doing it. We started using Zoom, WebEx and Namaste (secured Indian Video Conferencing tool) for interactions. We started using every applicable applications, we could use such as E-Learning with google forms, WhatsApp etc. For Immediate communication with staff, teachers, group discussions / meetings, even students in remote places WhatsApp is very useful. It’s always available and easy to use.
- Is it possible to do administrative work from the applications normally used in colleges ?
No, it is not possible with current applications. We depend on our staffs but they also don’t have all the information with them at home . We are managing all that we have in our email of personal PCs or laptops. This is certainly not the efficient way of working.
- What changes in student behaviour do you foresee due to Covid-19 pandemic?
In this frightening stretch of epidemic, when the entire country is shutting down, the insecurity neighboring coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle. Covid-19 has scared everyone. Individuals are living in insecurity and apprehensive about their lives. Recently I have conducted extensive research .All together nine hundred students have voluntarily participated in that study. The participants were in the age group of 23 to 32 yrs. Out of 900, 41% were doing their Masters , 22% were in undergraduate , 36% were pursuing their professional degree , 1% have completed their Intermediate. I would like share one aspect of my result .
In this frightening stretch of a worldwide epidemic, when the entire country is shutting down, the insecurity neighbouring coronavirus is the hardest thing to handle.
Covid-19 has scared everyone. People are living in great uncertainty and worried about their lives. Country is shut down. The insecurity surrounding coronavirus is really difficult to handle. As responded, students are living in scary situations where they spend sleepless nights ( 6.3%), restless ( 20.80%) , depressed ( 23.%) and always anxious ( 23.10%). Regrettably, 26.8% of students are not bothered, not even thinking about this virus.
Altogether 46% students are continuously anxious and depressed.
Twenty six percent ( 26% ) students are restless and not able to sleep . They are worried about the security of their parent jobs, and their placements If lockdown continues
- How, in your opinion, can digital technologies help in overcoming the challenge thrown by this behavioural change?
Many people are working online, Easy to reach to many people
- How, in your opinion, can digital technologies help in overcoming the challenge thrown by this behavioral change?
Yes, If someone is feeling mentaly distubed many technologies can be applied for such Emotional, behavioral changes. Many people are working online and are ready to help for any behavioural changes that others are facing. It is easier to reach and connect to many people using the technology thus digital technologies are creating unprecedented opportunities to encourage, enable and empower more sustainable behaviour. It is possible to sharpen our conscious and unconscious cognitive processes as we often read, understand and challenge ourselves using available technologies. Using technology we can learn, invent many things, creativity can be explored. For example, I wanted to learn Edmodo, using youtube videos I learned how to record my presentation, uploaded it. Many people started singing, painting again which was their hobby and they have tremendously improved using the technology available. Except, emotions, any human behaviour can be learnt, taught and improved using technology.
- What changes in student behaviour do you foresee due to Covid-19 pandemic?
- Do you see online classes / online teaching becoming the new normal from this point onwards?
Yes, absolutely , but the teaching quality has to be improved and there are more possibilities that it will be used by academicians in future more frequently . For online classes there are more opportunities for example some individuals are taking evening part time classes. Sometimes it is inconvenient for them to come to college after working hours, they are exhausted. For them online classes are going to be very useful. It will not be considered distance learning as there are UGC guidelines which institutes have to follow. Earlier we were not considering this way of teaching as it was not comfortable teaching this way. Now there is acceptance in teachers and professors to teach online.
- Do you predict an increase in the number of students signing-up for online courses?
So far we don’t provide online courses. But now we may have to start , Students can opt for online courses. I think signing-up for online courses will increase. We have started teaching online as we cannot start the institute. Initially we had few teething problems like installations, presentations, giving instructions etc but we have overcome it within a short span of time. Attendance is a problem as we don’t know if they are really present online. I feel technology may not totally overcome the issue.
- How do you plan to use digital marketing for your university/ institute/ college?
We are using it to a certain level already. When marketing admission process has started we used social media.But we will be using more aggressively now through our website, WhatsApp, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, e-Newspaper etc. We have our technical team. Advertisement is mainly done during the time of admissions.
- Thanks to the many learning apps, students entering college education are now habituated to learning through education videos. Are you also planning to create education videos, to improve the pedagogy at your university/ institute/ college?
Our preparation is as per the university model. We are aware that the students are taking help of other tools, we can judge from their performance. We would like to create such ways of teaching for high quality of education which is better for students. Thought process has started but yet to start. We have decided to prepare recorded videos and use it for online classes. Recently I did a U-tube live session with an institute , which was participated by approximately 1700 participants and generated many likes and shares. That has boosted my confidence too. Before that I could not have thought of about this possibility .
- Communication & engaging the current students surely would have been a challenge. Do you think a mobile app would have made communication & student engagement a lot more organised and easier?
Yes, I think so. those in remote areas, it was difficult for them to connect with us. Since it is a professional course they were worried about submission of their assignments on time . It is very essential, It will be an excellent help. Now due to Jio the internet rates have come down, it is available with everyone. University is providing results and various communications which can be accessed online. Such apps are useful from a Departmental and Institutional point of view.
- Is building a mobile app for your university/ institute/ college among your top priorities now?
Yes. Because of such a pandemic situation it is a necessity. We can market it also for widening our reach.
- Does your university/ institute/ college accept fee payments online? If not, do you plan to give online fee payment facility to students?
No. we prefer Demand Draft but payment using NEFT/RTGS is accepted.
- Please share some of your insights & learnings from the lockdown.
Philosophically lockdown has given us the opportunity to sit back and introspect. It has made us more realistic. Most of us started thinking about how we were running behind materialistic things and high state of life against the cost of mental peace and health. After lockdown many of us who are confined to our houses realize that only a few things are required. It is Materialistic things are not imp. How spending time with near and dear ones could be so fulfilling and gives internal pleasure. We have to realize who we are. This realization must continue after the lockdown. Environment has become cleaner.
Thank you very much.
Chandan Bagwe, is the Founder and Managing Director of C Com Digital, founded the company two decades ago in 1998. This can be attributed to consistent and immaculate services in online development and marketing along with recruitment of an experienced and specialized team under his stewardship. Chandan has established the company as the leading techno digital marketing agency in India essentially focusing on the digital publicity of brands by integrating Content Curation & Creation, influencer marketing, digital public relations and distribution of varied content. The company has worked with leading brands such as Times Now, Edelweiss, Tata Interactive Systems, Tata ClassEdge, Asian Heart Institute, Anunta Technology Management Services Pvt. Ltd, Blue Cross Laboratories Pvt. Ltd, We School, Outlook Publishing, Southern Health Foods Pvt. Ltd (Manna), Ram Ratna Group, and Globus to name a few.