Sep 27, 2016

A Chinese Professor and his Invention – the Lighter Side

R Jayaraman

A computer teacher in a Chinese B-School has found out a method to read the degree of attention a student in his class is paying to his lecture. An Editor of the Times of India has thought it fit to print this gem in the edit page of the Mumbai edition on Sep.15. So this must be interesting and impactful news.

The Chinese are ancient people and have to their credit many firsts, like using paper, building the Great Wall and the world’s largest dam. Naturally newspapers keep an eye out for anything Chinese. Add to that a student who is being sought after by many schools, especially if he is interested in doing his MBA. Else who will pay for all the money that B-Schools spend on their activities?

The recent Chinese method invented obviously involves a sensor to track the facial expressions of the student from which one can get an idea of what’s going on in his mind. Of course, the risk seeking professor has not encountered the SPJIMR student who can give a run for the professor’s curiosity.

Many of my colleagues will agree with me when I say that the classroom in a B-School is an evolved entity. It has now three projectors, several speakers excluding the professor, pinup boards (don’t get me wrong, these are for putting up stickers for work in courses like Design Thinking), Wi-Fi connections – perhaps to remind those who may have forgotten that there is a world hidden in the internet and it cannot be kept away from the student.There are video players, CCTVs (this is not a very popular device as it could capture the professor’s antics too, a double-edged sword, so to say), flip charts, white-boards and white-board markers covering all the colours of the rainbow, collar mikes along with mounted as well as hand held ones so that you can use whichever one of these is working, and the ubiquitous swivelling chair.

This last is a touch as it is expected to prevent anyone from going to sleep as the well-oiled ball and socket joint will move at the slightest sign of the eyes shutting. Into this well-appointed classroom, the Chinese professor is adding one more gadget, and that too, to spy on the most important object in the room – the student.

Don’t know about you, but by the time I enter at the dot of the bell, some of the occupiers of the swivel chairs are deeply busy on their laptops. They expect you to think that they are doing their last minute touch up of the calculations that they have been tackling since last night in the three-page HBS case. Any other thought is simply dismissed with the contempt it deserves. Some are busy giving finishing touches to the conversations that began in the previous session. They have every intention to listen to you provided you have something useful to tell them.

Most B-School students are now “loanees” before they enter your August portals. They are quite serious about what they learn as this facilitates their ROI calculation, that is, what will be the first salary from the job that they can get when they complete their degree, and how soon can they pay back the loan. Most of the students are keen to learn as much as they can from the classes, especially from the internet. In such a scenario, the Chinese professor is indeed going to find it tough. All that I can say is: Good luck to him. Do we need more of such risk-seekers? You be the judge.

AppLy Now