September 5, 2021 2:24:23 am
Pooja Thomas, Assistant Professor at MICA, who specialises in Cultural Studies, has used Ahmedabad city as a lab for many years now, taking students out to specific key sites and helping them unravel the culture of places.
Further, during Covid-19 pandemic, she conducted workshop-style and discussion-led online sessions which may be difficult in a large classroom environment.
Looking at these initiatives, Prof Pooja Thomas has been announced as the recipient of AICTE Dr Pritam Singh Award 2021 for extraordinary teaching in management education. The award will be conferred to her by Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Teacher’s Day in New Delhi.
“I think of the classroom as an opportunity for the students to test assumptions, worldviews, skills-sets, and to expand knowledge base. Therefore, for my course on culture, my classroom becomes a lab where both student and teacher share equal space decoding cultural objects, popular culture and identifying core values and beliefs,” she says.
She also uses podcasts to enhance the learning experience. “These podcasts are my conversations with academic experts in an easy and accessible manner on new media, listening cultures, food anthropology. As is evident, my course is interdisciplinary, drawing from different and rich sources to help unpack cultural contexts. In the end, these goals must translate to specific skills, knowledge, and attitude-related objectives in alignment with the institutional objectives of MICA as a management school,” she says.
Amid the pandemic, Prof Thomas tried to find new teaching methods. “Google classrooms can used effectively as a space for students to express their comments and understanding on the course material and as a space to constantly share interesting readings ,” she added.
These initiatives are well appreciated by her students too. Sreeram K V from the 2020-22 batch says, “She always ensured to get even the most indifferent student to contribute something to the class. Once, when we mentioned the digital fatigue we faced due to virtual learning, she even made a podcast series for our pre-reads and attempted to show us the omnipresent nature of culture, and, along with it, she gave us the tools to decode it.”
Aaryaka Nidhi, another students says, “The one thing that makes her stand out is how she includes each and everyone present in the room in discussions.”
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