IIGJs Switch To Online Jewellery-Making Courses During The Pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic locked down the world temporarily, followed by partial lockdowns. But the world did not pause for long. Life had to go on, and everyone realised the power of staying in touch – but digitally. To ensure that safety norms were adhered to during the pandemic, companies and institutes explored possibilities of maximising productivity through online platforms for their day-to-day business, and employees were requested to work from home. Schools and institutes, too, have had no other option but to leverage the online platform to teach and reach out to students.

Indian Gem & Jewellery Institute (IIGJ) set up by Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, that is renowned for offering world-class gem and jewellery design and manufacturing courses across the country, was no different. Adapting quickly to the new norm, IIGJ began online courses – although, by and large, jewellery designing and making is a more hands-on learning skill.

Every year, while hundreds of students pass out of IIGJ and join the industry to make a career,  and hundreds of aspiring students enrol for the various courses at IIGJ. But this year due to Covid-19, the IIGJ centres across India – two in Mumbai, one each in Jaipur and Delhi, Varanasi and Udupi – have faced a tough time enrolling student for the full-time courses due to the imposed lockdowns in the states. Nevertheless, IIGJ introduced short-term online courses so that students could continue with their learning.

Colin Shah, Chairman, GJEPC said, “I happy to note that our IIJG institutes have been quick to adapt to the new normal and have introduced online courses in these challenging times. IIGJs have been offering world-class gem and jewellery designing and manufacturing courses, thus giving the industry the required skilled resources over the years. Post pandemic, it will be a new start, new beginning. People will look for new and fresh designs. Even the industry will require fresh talents who can design jewellery for the new consumers.”

Anish Kappil, Head of the Academics department and Associate Professor,  IIGJ Jaipur, said, “When a programme is designed, its objective is aligned with the teaching content and learning outcome. Gems and jewellery courses are primarily skill-oriented and involve hands-on practice, apart from theoretical learning. Online courses for the skill-based programmes are not as effective as compared to classroom experience, but yes we have minimized the educational loss of students with online teaching.”

Some courses that can be taught online are  Jewellery Design, CAD and Merchandising, Kappil elaborated. 

Navin Sadarangani, founder of NYUZ, that offers consultancy in retail sales and branding, conducted online training courses at IIGJ Delhi on technical aspects of diamond grading, cutting etc., merchandising, and visual merchandising among others. He noted, “There are three aspects of learning – Knowledge learning, skill learning and attitude learning. Knowledge can be taught online and even to an extent attitude can be learned through online channels. Skill is something that needs to be developed and it is vital to be trained at the work bench.”

Pankaj Verma, HoD, IIGJ Delhi firmly believes that classroom learning helps students and teachers know each other in a better manner and allows teachers to know the students and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and guide students in their career possibilities.

The regular courses being offered by IIGJ Delhi are primarily practical courses with approximately 70% – 80% assessment depending on practical exams. Verma comments, “There are limitations in imparting training for core courses related to design, manufacturing and gemmology. However, we have developed a few courses which can be offered online and students can do a bridge course at the campus for further studies. Online is good for upskilling of the existing workforce in areas like retailing, photography, management, digital marketing, merchandising, visual merchandising, curation, content writing, personality development, etc. IIGJ Delhi has been able to enrol 108 students for its online courses.”

Since March, IIGJ Jaipur continued its existing long-duration degree programmes with online teaching aligned with various semesters. During the lockdown, IIGJ Jaipur also introduced new short-duration online foundation programmes.

“Considering the current scenario, online teaching is the only way through which we are continuing with imparting education. Short-duration online courses are good promotional tools to convert students to enrolling for long-term courses.  IIGJ Jaipur has promoted the online short programmes and generated enrolments, too,” added Anish Kappil.

Sanjoy Ghosh, head of IIGJ Mumbai, stated, “The main admission period for us starts from  July to September. This year, the admission period will be delayed and see a likely drop of over 50% in number of admissions as compared to financial year 2019-20. Prospective students are likely to delay their jewellery education until such time the pandemic situation improves.”

IIGJ Mumbai had to introduce online courses as the lockdown has severely affected admissions during the quarter ending 30th June. Admissions are down 83% during the first quarter of this year, compared to last financial year 2019-20. Online courses in Jewellery Design, CAD and Merchandising were started from 4th of April, 2020. A total of 49 students registered between April and June.

“Online jewellery courses may not be as effective as one-on-one training in the classroom. Jewellery education and training is more about hands-on experience. Moreover, challenges are faced in terms of availability of stable and reasonably good quality internet speed and band width at the student’s end. Not all candidates have a laptop/PC and other training equipment required for the courses. For example, with the closure of all stationery shops, students were unable to procure even basic pencil and paper.” adds Sanjoy Ghosh, IIGJ Mumbai. 

Commenting on the new opportunities that online courses have opened up, Pankaj Verma concluded, “We now plan to offer online courses regularly even after the lockdown is lifted. We have enrolled students from different parts of the country and even from different countries for our online courses. For that, we shall require new investment to build related new products and infrastructure in terms of online platforms, curriculum, presentation, gazettes, Wi-Fi connections, and tools to monitor responses, etc. All IIGJ centres must rise to the challenge collectively to achieve the objectives of standardization, alignment and minimizing the cost involved in building this platform for offering online courses.”

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