September 7, 2010
School of Business, Coimbatore
Mälardalen University is one of Sweden’s major research universities. Of late, students from Malardalen have been taking classes and receiving project guidance from professors in Amrita.
The Amrita professors are based in Coimbatore. The students are located on another continent. They connect through video conferencing.
“I taught project management to postgraduate students in Malardalen; they had the opportunity to learn more about workflow and scheduling,” shared Dr. Sanjay Banerji, Dean, Amrita School of Business.
Dr. Deepak Gupta, Professor at the same School, served as a guide for four students working on their masters’ thesis in IT Management at the School of Sustainable Development of Society and Technology in Malardalen.
What has been different about teaching international students? Moreover, teaching and guiding students who are not located in the same classroom?
“The students were very confident,” spontaneously replied Dr. Banerji. “I liked the way that they contributed with constructive criticisms, when involved in group work.”
Dr. Gupta’s four students were from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Europe. He guided them over a two-month period, interacting with them through emails and video conferencing.
“These sessions have helped me also learn about the strengths and weaknesses of e-learning,” he shared.
In March 2009, Dr. Banerji had visited Europe for one month as part of the Erasmus Mundus student and faculty exchange program. He was at Malardalen University in Sweden and at the University of Turku in Finland.
Following his brief stint in Europe, he had received an invitation from Dr. Michael Le Duc, Professor at Malardalen, to engage with students at the foreign varsity. The invitation extended also to other professors at Amrita who could contribute.
The invitation led to Dr. Banerji delivering a three-hour class to students at Malardalen and Dr. Gupta guiding the students in a class taught by Dr. Michael.
The professors shared their overall experience of teaching and interacting with international students.
“We normally assume that Westerners have a lot of freedom. But we found that the schedules for submission of assignments were strictly observed. Overall, there was no compromise in the process of education. There were students from South Asia and Europe and we enjoyed sharing our learning with them.”