The Foundation Course (FC), for 142 Trainee Civil Servants and another FC for 33 Military Engineer Services Probationers, which were being conducted by Dr MCR HRD Institute, had to be called off midway, on account of outbreak of Covid-19. All the Officer Trainees (OTs), therefore, were sent back to their native places/work units. However, the Institute took a bold decision to deliver rest of the modules of the FCs, through online mode, and convert the bleak scenario into a pleasant learning opportunity. The Institute rose to the occasion and transformed its entire content and pedagogy into online mode, and reached out to the OTs, spread over 175 different locations across the country.
While Covid-19 closed the doors on conventional training, the online training opened innumerable avenues. The Institute no longer had the constraint to confine itself mainly to Hyderabad-based Resource Persons. Instead, it provided a unique opportunity to tap the services of a wider pool of Resource Persons both from India and abroad to address the OTs. Such eminent speakers, including Anil Swarup IAS (Retd) and K P Krishnan, IAS (Retd), former Secretaries to Government of India, Gurjit Singh, IFS (Retd), former Indian Ambassador, Gnana Rajasekaran, IAS (Retd), an Awards-Winning Film Maker, Prof K V S Sarma, VC, MNLU, Aurangabad, Prof S Chandrasekhar, ISB, Dr Menaka Guruswamy, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India (an alumnus of Harvard and Oxford Universities), and others addressed the OTs.
The online training even broke national barriers and brought eminent persons, with global credentials, on the Institute’s radar. The presentation by Dr Narendar V Rao from Northeastern University of Illinois, USA proved to be an icing on the cake.
The OTs were provided access to “Udemy for Government”, an online portal having a bouquet of
4000 courses. This intervention enabled them to diversify and enrich their knowledge, skills, and attitudes and thereby enhance their productivity.
Over 60 virtual sessions, spread over 45 days, an array of 14 Assignments, TREK and Village Visit Presentations, Counselor Group Meetings, Army Symposium, Civil Services Day and different Examinations, all via virtual mode, were greatly instrumental in ensuring that the learning on the part of the OTs was continuous and long lasting. The services of such eminent persons as H J Dora, IPS (Retd), former DGP, Ms Ananda Shankar Jayanth, IRTS, Padmashree Awardee, and other eminent persons were utilized for the evaluation of Assignments submitted by the OTs.
A much bigger challenge was to organize a number of fun-filled tasks, including FETE- The Mela, India Day, and Cultural Evening too, via virtual mode. However, the OTs collaborated seamlessly and displayed their hidden talents in singing, dancing, music, etc. and showcased India’s Unity in Diversity. “Thanks to power of online training, the distances melted away, the OTs worked closely, and developed a feeling of working together under the same roof, despite being dispersed across the country. It had as powerful an impact as the conventional training, both in terms of learning and at the same time enjoying its journey” opined the OTs unanimously.
BP Acharya, IAS, DG of the Institute & Spl Chief Secretary to Government said that while conventional training has got its own strengths, online training is the need of the hour, especially in the Post – Covid-19 scenario. “The success of the Foundation Courses, via virtual mode, calls for its wider use for Government employees in future”, stated Acharya.
Harpreet Singh, IAS, ADG of the Institute said that Dr MCR HRD Institute is one of the first training establishments to have successfully delivered two high-end Foundation Courses, combining both conventional and online modes, which amounted to having best of both the worlds.
A Sridevi, Director IT said that training institutions should develop their capacities to offer more and more online programs, considering a huge surge in demand for them.
Prof. Md Abbas Ali, Academic Coordinator, Special, FC coordinated the Virtual Sessions by using such online platforms as “Cisco WebEx” and, an indigenously developed one, “Impartus”. The FC is ending on May 15.