Teaching through Summer School

Dr Pratibha Jolly, Principal, Miranda House,Delhi explains how the collaboration with King’s College London will give students a multi-cultural experience and an international perspective

Miranda House believes in exposing its students to the latest in teaching methods and active learning environments. It offers several self-financing courses with expert faculty drawn from prestigious institutions and uses information technology in the teaching-learning process. To this end Miranda House is hosting faculty from King’s College London to run a Delhi edition of the university’s famous Summer School.

The 5WH in brief

Who: Dr Pratibha Jolly, Principal, Miranda House,Delhi

What: Is heading the design and implementation of the Delhi Summer School of King’s College London

When: Since 2013

Why: To give students further exposure to interactive international teaching methods and an inter-disciplinary teaching environment. The collaboration with King's envisages a multi-cultural experience and enriching international perspective on content, context and delivery.

Where: Miranda House,Delhi

How: By designing courses tailored to the academic backgrounds of students studying in Delhi University, the primary target audience, and flying in faculty from King’s College London to teach these courses.

Miranda House is a premier college for women of Delhi University. The college strives to maintain high academic standards and give student’s space to freely express and develop views that help them respond to societal changes.

Miranda House has pioneered the creation of active learning environments—well exemplified in its D S Kothari Centre for Research and Innovation in Science Education. Moving beyond the framework of University curriculum, the college also offers several self-financing courses throughout the year with expert faculty drawn from prestigious institutions. For instance, it runs a course on Operations Research: Optimization for Better Decisions in collaboration with Faculty of Management Studies,University ofDelhi and other city-based management institutes. Miranda House has also taken the lead in the use of information technology in the teaching-learning process and to implement project-based learning. With the introduction of the four year undergraduate programme by theUniversity ofDelhi, collaborative project work is part of the curriculum.

Education for Innovation

Although Miranda House prides itself on its learning environment, Principal Dr Pratibha Jolly admits that creating active learning environments is always a challenge. “Education for innovation is the new mantra. However, the gap between what is taught and what is learnt is far bigger than what is commonly realised. The challenge is to bridge this gap with meaningful learning that compels students to proactively take charge of their own learning,” she explains.

According to Dr Jolly, “The way forward is to create an interactive hands-on, minds-on teaching-learning environment where the student is constantly challenged to think and do. This in turn requires the seamless integration of a variety of teaching strategies that provoke active mental engagement with ideas and concepts, evidence-based discussion and debate that develops the art of argumentation and problem solving skills. It is these higher order thinking skills of analysis and synthesis that provide the key to knowledge acquisition and trigger the creative process.”

Delhi fit for King’s

An avid believer in learning from best teaching practices adopted across the world, Dr Jolly lost no time in offering to host the King’s College London Delhi Summer School, when she heard the university proposed to extend its successful Mumbai Summer School to Delhi.

King’s College London’s is one of the world’s top 30 universities, according to the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings. It is renowned for the range of popular short courses it offers at its International Summer School inLondon. Here are the key features of the Delhi Summer School:

TRI-PARTY PARTNERSHIP: King’s Delhi Summer School brings together three organisations. King’s College London is providing the faculty and course syllabi. Miranda House is the host institution. Miranda House faculty is helping to identify appropriate courses and tailor these courses to the Indian context. Think Education, an advisory service acting in the field of education, acts as a facilitator with respect to logistics, financial management and publicity. Think Education collects the fees on behalf of King’s College London. All the costs are borne by King’s College London.

INTERNATIONAL FACULTY: King’s College London faculty flies in to teach the courses. “When we decide on the courses, we keep in mind the availability of tutors at King’s who are willing and available to travel toIndiaduring June,” says Dr Jolly. All the tutors from King’s have extensive experience in their areas of specialisation, including teaching the modules at the London Summer School.

TAILORED COURSES: Course coordinators from Miranda House and faculty from King’s College jointly identify courses that would be appropriate for the academic backgrounds of undergraduate students studying inDelhiUniversity, the primary target audience. These courses are tailored to make them more relevant for Indian students. “We choose India-specific readings,” shares Dr Jolly.

COURSE DELIVERY MODE: The courses are of two weeks duration and involve a total of 40 contact hours. Group activities, mock simulations and other participatory ways of learning make the teaching-learning process interactive. For instance, attendees of last year’s course on International Relations wrote UN resolutions and participated in question and answer sessions. “We have found participants to be eager to share their knowledge on the Indian experience. Classroom interactions are lively and indicative of two-way learning,” says Dr Jolly.

GUEST LECTURES: The course coordinators from Miranda House invite a few prominent personalities from fields related to the courses, to deliver guest lectures. According to Dr Jolly, “The idea is for Indian guest speakers to share their first-hand experiences so that participants are better able to understand the theoretical lectures that have been delivered.”

Last year’s guest lecturers included Onno Ruhl, the country-director for India at the World Bank, K C Singh, retired IFS officer and former Indian ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and Iran, Sanjeev Bikhchandani, the co-founder and CEO of naukri.com and Professor C P Chandrashekhar , a well-known economist from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Professor Chandrashekhar stepped in for the course on International Political Economy. A participant described his lucid summary of international finance and the financial crisis as one that “helped connect the dots from the two-week long course,” which sums up the very purpose of the guest lectures.

SEATS PER COURSE: The number of participants per course can vary between 40 and 60, and include Miranda House students as well as other men and women. Women participants from outsideDelhiwho need accommodation can stay at the Miranda House hostel. Hostel accommodation for male participants can be arranged in Delhi University.

NVOLVEMENT OF MIRANDA HOUSE STAFF: The faculty coordinators from Miranda House sit in on the courses and assist in feedback and evaluation, a key component of innovative teaching. One faculty coordinator from Miranda House gets a scholarship to attend a London Summer School course for three weeks. Other faculty members are also taking a keen interest. They are encouraged to informally interact with the King’s faculty and discretely observe a few sessions to get a flavour of the approach. “We hope this will sensitize the college community to critical issues in higher learning,” says Dr Jolly.

STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS: King’s College offers scholarships to the one best student of each course to attend its London Summer School for free—accommodation is free and the tuition fee is waived.

Learning together

King’s Delhi Summer School offered three courses in 2013. These were International Relations, International Political Economy and e-Business—The Online Entrepreneur.

In 2014, the Summer School is offering two courses—International Political Economy and International Relations.

The King’s Delhi Summer School is bringing together students from all over the country and from abroad. Last year, 153 students participated in the Summer School, 151 from India, 2 from overseas (one each from Germany and UK). Of these, 120 were from Delhi and 33 from other cities and states. Miranda House participants numbered 56.

“The response to the Summer School has been phenomenal. We have had students from engineering, science, economics and other backgrounds apply for the courses. It’s a great experience for students,” affirms Dr Jolly. “Also, self financed courses would make use of the college infrastructure during the holidays. They may be for a select few, but it allows at least some students to acquire new learning inIndia.”

In 2013, a student of Lady Shri Ram College,New Delhi, an independent entrepreneur and a student from St. Joseph’s College of Commerce, Bengaluru, were awarded scholarships to attend the King’s College London Summer School.

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