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Movies as a learning tool in B-school classrooms

The pedagogy followed by B-schools today comprises a plethora of tools and techniques. At one extreme, we have the typical lecture method combined with chalk and talk while at the other extreme, there is simulation or learning on field through participatory rural appraisal. Today, when the focus has shifted from teaching to learning, it is pertinent to use a combination of different tools and techniques to disseminate knowledge. This issue becomes particularly critical in case of B-schools where too many subjects are cramped in a trimester. While the attention span of a student is becoming shorter, the reckless use of mobile phones during class hours is playing a spoilsport in the classroom. B-schools are tackling this issue in several ways right from banning mobile phones in the classroom to imposition of fine, but in vain.

The case study method has its limitations. Students sometimes cannot relate to the case itself because of unfamiliar context or do not come to class with read the case resulting in poor class room management.

Role play is a better option but also has its own set of limitations in different disciplines and relevance to only specific topics.

Simulation technique on the other hand, requires a license and an elaborate set up in form of computer laboratory which may not be available with all -schools.

A lesser used tool for imparting learning is videos and films. There are a relatively large number of management related films available today as well as short videos. If effectively used, videos and films help in extending the attention span of students by offering a break in monotony. Stop/rewind/play facility can help a facilitator explain or highlight a particular scene and connect it to one of the theoretical concepts. Another advantage of this tool is easy and free availability of movies or clips of different duration to suit session duration. They can also be used in Management Development Programmes where participants are of different backgound and richer profile.

So let’s recap the benefits of using videos and movies in a B-school classroom.

  • It requires little set up in form of a laptop, sound system and projector which is normally available in a majority of B-
  • Movies today are available in different languages and as a result can be used for a variety of audience.
  • Offers greater flexibility in showing a particular scene or clip to save time and highlight an issue with accuracy.
  • A movie can be used for multiple subjects and for variety of topics. They have greater role to play in subjects such as OB/H R, International Marketing, Cross cultural management and Marketing.
  • With availability of subtitles, a movie with foreign language also can be used.
  • If a popular movie is chosen (such as LAGAAN) for team building and motivation topics, students can easily relate and connect dots between theory and practice.
  • Facilitator is free to use both options. Either explain theory and then supplement with a clip or first show clip and encourage students to connect it to one of the topics from the subject.
  • GIF also can be used to highlight a particular situation or explain a point.

Here are few movies which can be used in various management disciplines.

OURSOURCED: It is a romantic comedy directed by John Jeffcoat and released in 2006. This movie starring Josh Hamilton and Ayesha Dharkar deals with issues faced by an American manager after being deputed to India to improve performance of an I T set up. The movie certainly can be shown in cross- cultural management course because it has elements related to acculturation process in particular. It can also be used in OB/HR courses while covering topics such as motivation, team building and conflict management. Because this movie is shot in Indian context, students can easily relate with it.

BAWARCHI: This musical comedy drama of 1972 revolves around a traditional Indian family and its members’ interaction with their multi-talented cook Raghu. It teaches H R related aspects of appreciation of small incidences in life, conflict resolution and individual motivation. It also shows how to make a person aware of his own strength. The best part of the movie is subtlety of humor which makes learning process fun.

DO ANKHEN BARAH HAATH: This movie produced in 1957 by V Shantaram revolves around Adinath, a jail warden with a humane perspective towards his prisoners. It covers his efforts to transform few hard core criminals and his success in doing do at the end after initial failures. It can be used in Change Management course because it has many elements related to process of change and qualities of a change agent and also change process. It also emphasizes how trust can play important role in human relations. It also can be used to discuss topic of leadership.

KATHA: This 1982 Bollywood drama directed by Sai Paranjape is based on metaphor of tortoise and hare. It revolves around two typical employees in Indian office set up and how smart work wins over hard work. However, it breaks the normal belief that tortoise always wins. It also covers how bosses in office err in understanding their employees. It can also be used while discussing topics such as EQ and interpersonal relations.

LATHE JOSHI: This Marathi movie produced in 2016 and released in 2018 revolves around relationship between a man and a machine. It also touches issue of automation and its impact on labor. It emphasizes the core principle of survival of the fittest and also draws attention to importance of continuous learning. Contrary to majority of movies’ utility in H R related subjects, this can be used in operations management also.

ROCKET SINGH, SALESMAN OF THE YEAR: This 2009 comedy drama can be effectively used for Marketing and Sales disciplines. The reason being it brings out the stark difference between theory and practice and idealism versus reality. Student managers in general and particularly those without any work experience can get a firsthand feel of the real market scenario and also learn about some do’s and don’ts while working in the field. It can also be used for Business ethics.

Apart from these movies, a few short videos popularly used are Charlie Bit My Finger, United Breaks Guitars, Som Sabadel Flash Mob and One Pound Fish.

Some thumb rules to follow while using movies as a pedagogy tool are:

  • Choose movies which are directly related to a topic and brief students beforehand. If using an old movie, some introduction of the background is necessary.
  • Depending on the time available, rewind and play few scenes to highlight important points and fast forward in other cases.
  • Encourage students to discuss and draw parallel. Even probe them if they have seen similar situation in real life or in any other movie.
  • In case of short videos or clips, students if insisting on repeat view can be politely asked to see same on YouTube to save precious class time. If a few students have already seen the movie earlier, they can be used for initial probing.
  • Last but not the least, connecting dots between theory and practice, reel and real is a must, failing which the tool may be interpreted by students as a gimmick by facilitator to either kill time or a substitute for lack of preparation on his part.

To conclude, movies and videos can be used as a classroom learning tool in a wide variety of management disciplines. While it may be extensively used in Marketing and HR/OB related subjects, its relevance in other areas cannot be underestimated.

Authored by Milind Fadnavis, associate professor, IMT Nagpur. He can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]

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