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Hersh Shah, CEO, India Affiliate of Institute of Risk Management (UK) calls to embrace the online learning

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Hersh Shah

1. How IRM is different from other institutes?

IRM is a leading professional body headquartered in the UK with a 30-year presence across 143 countries. IRM provides globally recognised qualifications in Enterprise Risk Management that can be pursued alongside graduation, post-graduation or a job. The qualifications are from Level 1 to Level 5 with designations at each stage after Level 2.

IRM is different from a regular Financial Risk Management or an Insurance Risk program. At IRM, the focus is on Enterprise Risk Management, which is a more expansive concept that encompasses numerous aspects of risk in an organisation.

Risk is inherent in everything we do, and hence our students and faculty members across the globe in 143 countries come from diverse backgrounds such as leadership, risk heads, family businesses, and consulting, and from across sectors including health, insurance, energy, pharmaceuticals, financial services, and retail. IRM has published research papers in conjunction with Cambridge University – Judge Business School and also works with Warwick University for an additional Digital Risk Management Qualification. IRM Global is also part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report which is released annually.

Also read: Online learning is the key to success in lockdown

With 360 exam centers in India and the option of taking the exam online because of the current pandemic, students can kickstart their professional career with Level 1 to 5 qualifications that provide an ideal pathway to becoming a Chief Risk Officer in any sector.

2. What are risks involved to shift everything online?

Ans- Every risk presents an opportunity. Online learning has shown us just how effectively education can be delivered via technology and the internet within the convenience of a home. The sheer reach of e-learning is just beginning to unveil itself and we must embrace it. However, there are some obvious risks and shortcomings that come with shifting everything online.

While online learning gives students the opportunity to connect with experts from across the globe, depending on the subject, online classes can occasionally fall short of providing a learning experience at par with physical classes. For example, in science subjects, conducting practicals and experiments online becomes a challenge due to the non-availability of the requisite material and lab infrastructure at students’ homes. Shifting to online learning also entails serious cybersecurity risks.

Educational institutions being hacked is a very real risk – two schools in San Francisco’s Bay Area were targets of cybersecurity breaches in May, in both cases, students’ privacy was severely compromised with hackers gaining access to tonnes of personal data. There have also been instances of online classes being hacked. Another hurdle that teachers might face is the ability to assess the impact of lessons on students. Teaching has always been characterised by interpersonal communication in a classroom setup where teachers can interact with students and be physically present with them to gauge their responses. But with classes now having moved to a virtual space, teachers may find it challenging to assess how much students have absorbed.

Too much screen time can also have a negative impact on health – this is true for both students and teachers. Another serious concern is that of data leakage – students circulating screenshots and videos of presentations and online lectures without permission is a very real problem that does not have a solution as of now.

3. What are your plans to penetrate Tier II and III cities in India?

Ans- IRM’s qualifications are available across India. Students from any Indian city can enroll for the exams, attend the free study support sessions, prepare using the study materials and appear for the examination at any of the 360 exam centers or online. Organisations who are looking to build qualified risk teams have been recruiting IRM-qualified professionals all through this pandemic because there is a real need for risk management during such a tumultuous economic climate.

4. How the pandemic has changed the dynamics of education?

Ans-The Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed the full potential of online learning via international collaborations. Students can connect with experts from all over the world, a benefit that may not have been as widely available before the pandemic. Technology has enabled rapid access and reach, and it has facilitated connections between students and academicians from far-flung corners of the globe. It has also led us to relook at our need for large campuses and question the allocation of excess investment in university campus infrastructure.

5. Online degrees are still not recognized in India; Do you think the government should include it?

Ans-The Ministry of Human Resource Development and education regulators in India are already taking very ambitious steps to revamp the education sector and this includes recognizing online degrees. We need to wait till this step is formally executed.

6. How have ed-tech firms impacted the education sector?

Ans- Ed-tech firms have been a complete game-changer; they have revolutionized traditional teaching methods with the help of innovative technology, thereby redefining the concept of classroom learning. Universities and colleges can definitely take advantage of ed-tech firms by partnering with them and utilising their already existing education infrastructure.

Ed-tech firms also offer the opportunity for people to gain additional skills outside of their job or academic curriculum. With the current economic climate characterised by job cuts and redundancies, upskilling and reskilling are essential to stay relevant in the job market. However, online certifications do run the risk of being a dime a dozen and individuals must make a careful selection. Today, there are hundreds of universities and institutions offering certifications in data science and computer technology, this often lowers the value of the degree, hence, carefully choosing the right course from a reputed university is essential.

Having said this, online courses remain an excellent way to cultivate interests and build careers. Many students have studied basic risk management online and then gone on to enroll at IRM for professional qualifications. Online courses also offer much-needed advantages to students and aspiring professionals in tier 2 and tier 3 cities, where they often do not have access to premium universities and educational institutions.

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