The practical business

Business schools must give maximum importance to practical and interactive learning of their students.

Change is the only constant in any modern business set-up. There are new contributions to the business field by various practitioners and academicians, from time to time. Therefore, the industry needs business graduates with a good temperament, professional etiquettes, communication and analytical skills.

The primary objective of management education must be focusing on imparting these skills to students, and to help them experience real vibrant business world rather than mere memorisation of concepts and theories. In order to accomplish this, we must encourage more practical approaches to teaching.   

Experiential learning: This method is situated in the experience of learning and equips the students with critical thinking, problem-solving skills and enables them to make decisions pertinent to them. This tactic also engages students and gives them an opportunity at quizzing, reflection, feedback and application of ideas and skills to new situations. 

Role playIt is a method of human interaction that involves realistic behaviour in imaginary situations. It includes action and doing practice. The students play the role of certain characters, such as the production manager, mechanical manager,  superintendents, maintenance engineer, quality control inspectors and the like. Roleplaying helps promote interpersonal skills.  

Games: The impetus of students can be increased with the use of games to underpin skills and concepts learned. Games are always pleasurable and exhilarating for all, irrespective of age. They may be played indoors or outdoors. They can be good ice-breakers and teach the concept of risk-taking to the students. They may be designed to teach facts, skills, behaviours and problem-solving and creativity. For example, the students can be given Rs 500 and ask to start a business with the capital, make profits and learn entrepreneurial skills. 

Team learning: When a teacher primarily places students in a group, the students are a ‘group’, not a ‘team’. As the students initiate to trust each other and build a commitment to the goals, objectives and well-being of the group, they transform into a team. Learning in communities and learning with peers, either through cooperation in a group project or through discussion in small groups facilitate diversity to students’ learning experience.  It would be a great platform to improve social and motivational skills.

Hands-on experience: Hands-on is essentially learning by doing — facilitating a student to gain familiarity and talents outside of books and lectures. Learning might befall through work in organisational projects or by performing organisational responsibilities practically. This includes internships.

Industrial visits: With the prior permission of a well-performing company and a brief orientation, students can be taken on industrial visits. This allows them to have a real-world experience. It is imperative that business schools engage in this practice, as it fosters better learning.

Problem-based learning: This is an innovative coaching technique that involves the students solving real-world problems in a group. It is an instructional strategy often used in higher education institutions. It prepares the students to think critically and analytically and helps them learn new concepts to solve the problems. 

Mock investments: To gauge the risk-taking abilities of the students, dummy currencies can be given to them which they can invest as money in various stocks and ventures. This gives an idea to the student as to how a textbook concept functions in the real world.  

 Using digital media: Watching videos such as TedTalks and other YouTube tutorials in class, encourages self-learning among students and keeps them abreast of the new events or concepts that have come up in the field. Watching biographical films on entrepreneurs will inspire them and help them understand the challenges in the field too. 

Out-bound learning programmes: They are essentially a set of group activities that take place in an outdoor space. It comprises a debriefing session by the facilitator and group-activities for the students. In the end, there is an evaluation and the group deliberates on how things could have been done differently.

Case studies: This is one of the oldest teaching methods in business schools. Here, students learn and analyse the cases of reputed companies. It is said that in Harvard Business School, on an average 3,000 case studies are discussed and analysed in the classrooms. This encourages debate among students.

 Vestibule Training: This is one of the interesting pedagogical tools used to teach management students. Here, actual work conditions are simulated in classrooms. All the material used in the job is incorporated and students are taught in the real environment. Then, there are tools like gamification, which use animation and create a virtual workplace.

All in all, the aforementioned methods can be explored to create active learning spaces in business schools.  

(The author is with Siddaganga Institute of Technology, Tumakuru)

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