COVID-19 outbreak has caused a downward spiral in the world economy and caused a huge impact on the higher education system. The sudden closure of campuses as a social distancing measure to prevent community transmission has shifted face-to-face classes to online learning systems. This has thrown the focus on utilizing eLearning tools and platforms for effective student engagement, which may have limitations of accessibility and affordability for many students. The pandemic has exposed the shortcomings of the current higher education system and the need for more training of educators in digital technology to adapt to the rapidly changing education climate of the world.
As the interaction between students and faculties was difficult, learning outcome and evaluation was hindered. Equipping students and faculty to use online platforms for the teaching-learning process was challenging. Completion of the syllabus was focused mainly on conducting practical classes was a challenge, and the complete offline academic and student activity became nil. “There was a decrease in the percentage of admission, especially international students, which also played a role in impacting teachers at their workplace significantly,” says Dr Sandhya Ravi, Principal, NITTE School of Fashion Technology and Interior Design (NSFTID).
With regular interaction hours and subject study hours specifically designed for online classes, NSFTID gave their faculty NITTE Email IDs to help in conducting secure and safe online classes with flexible times. The online classes only covered the theory aspect of the syllabus, and the practical aspect was taken care of when offline classes could be conducted. “We hosted various seminars, webinars, and workshops about Fashion and Interior Subjects for the students and teachers to keep them updated with the current trends in their respective subjects. New Pedagogical measures were designed to evaluate training and generate mechanisms to support disadvantaged students,” points out Dr Sandhya.
Revamping Practical Education
Aiming to provide high-quality and world-class education in Fashion Technology and Interior Design, NFSTID is committed to the innovation-based system of education, and its teaching methodology enables students to bring their best of creativity. “We enable our students to be industry-ready and make a remarkable career in Fashion and Interior design industry. Our campus in Bangalore is well equipped with all the modern amenities to provide students with the best learning environment,” says Dr Sandhya.
Enabling additional development and training for students, NSFTID collaborates with the industry to give ‘Employer Projects’ to students, help them deep-dive into business needs, meet professional needs, and develop practical solutions to business issues. Industry collaborations also stimulate companies’ internal research and development programs. University researchers help industrial scientists identify current research that might be useful for designing and developing innovative processes and potential products. “Working closely with colleagues to address shared concerns and to grow together is the hallmark of a vital academic community. Creating conditions that encourage faculty collaboration is an important way for higher education institutions to innovate and adapt in a time of rapid and continuous change, which is our college vision,” says Dr Sandhya.
Having collaborated with companies like Atal Incubation Centre, Jaquar, Geberit, Asian Paints, LIVSPACE, FabIndia, Gokaldas, Lifestyle, H&M, and the Sandalwood, the students at NSFTID are encouraged to work hard and focus on their careers. “We give our students a sense of control, clarity about their learning objectives, healthy competition, harness student interests, and track their progress,” points out Dr Sandhya.
NSFTID is very keen on promoting creative and innovative techniques among students, following these mechanisms at the institution and departmental level. Providing a platform to exhibit their fashion and interior models on various in-house and public exhibitions, the institute identifies the uniqueness in each student and accordingly sends them to competitions and rewards participation and achievements. “Our students display their creativity and innovation at the Open day exclusively open for all the outsiders to visit the campus to see the innovations in design,” adds Dr. Sandhya.
Encouraging students to start their ventures, NSFTID has established an Entrepreneurship Cell represented by the Faculty and Students of the Institute to share their innovative ideas and techniques to become future entrepreneurs. “Our students have pursued the path of entrepreneurship and started well-known companies, namely, House of EMKAY, Sandalwood, FabIndia, and LIVSPACE,” points out Dr Sandhya. With around 30% of the students pursuing higher education, 65% of NSFTID students have been placed in well-reputed companies like Jaquar, Gokaldas Exports Textiles, Raymond’s, Lifestyle, and H&M.
Securing three Bangalore University ranks in the First Batch of interior Design, NSFTID makes students familiar with online learning methods and inculcates smart classroom teaching and learning techniques to become more technologically advanced. “We are introducing new higher academic programs, increasing MoUs and collaborations with foreign bodies and universities for good learning exposure to cater to the needs of our students’ learning,” states Dr Sandhya.
Emphasizing more on practical learning and extending volunteer learning, NSFTID has established a placement and training centre to conduct mock interviews. The institute constantly engages with industrial relations to place all its students for internships and placements and encourage students to undergo skill development programs for better performance. Helping students in finding their footing in the ever-evolving industry, Dr Sandhya concludes, “We expect a surge in online courses and degrees, replacing face-to-face classes and less international travel to pursue education. We are looking forward to the trend of online learning among students pretty soon”.