Dr. Madhavi Dharankar: Opening Education for a Better World
Madhavi Dharankar

The sudden ascent of technology support in education has brought many new challenges for educators. Teaching online has its own set of limitations and lacks the personal touch that offline education has. However, it has also opened doors to many students, accessing a plethora of information and study courses. Students of all ages and from every nook and corner can learn and grow with online learning.

Furthermore, this education or lifelong learning system is not a new one. Years of research and implementation have resulted in the current distance learning system. Distance education has allowed students with different constricts to pursue education from a distance.

Dr. Madhavi Dharankar is a seasoned educator and has played a crucial role in developing distance learning in the country. She shares her insights on the current scenario in education and her vision in an interview conducted by The Knowledge Review.

Beginning Years and Career in Education

Dr. Madhavi Dharankar joined as Technical Assistant in the Department of Adult and Continuing Education and Extension, University of Mumbai, in 1995. She, later on, started working as an assistant teacher at S S Ajmera High School Borivali. Her journey in the education space had begun, and she continued teaching for several renowned schools and colleges and gained varied learning exposure.

Dr. Madavi had developed a strong foothold in distance education with her extensive tenure of 15 years at Yashvantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) as an Assistant Educator in the department of school of education.

She is currently an Associate Professor for the Department of Education Technology, where she teaches various subjects, including research methodology, open and distance learning, and education learning.

Inspiration and Role Models

Dr. Madhavi’s primary inspiration to get into teaching was her mother, a primary school teacher in Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Her school teachers had also played an important role in breeding the love for teaching. In higher education, Dr. C. G. D’lima, her B. Ed. College Principal had also played a crucial role in motiving her to become an educator.

A Sneak-Peek into a World-Class University

Dr. Madhavi shares the vision, mission, and core values of SNDT Women’s University (SNDTWU) as :

Vision: SNDT Women’s University is visualized as a world-class university that continually responds to the changing social realities through developing and applying knowledge and skills. The purpose of such engagement will be to create an inclusive society that promotes and protects dignity, equality, social justice, and human rights for all, with particular emphasis on women’s empowerment.

Mission: SNDT Women’s University is committed to the cause of women’s empowerment through access to higher education. Further, the university is committed to providing a wide range of professional and vocational courses for women to meet changing socio-economic needs, human values, purposeful social responsibility, and achieving excellence with “Quality in every Activity.”

Core Value: An Enlightened Woman is a Source of Infinite Strength

Dr. Madhavi says, “SNDTWU has a priority to educate the women so that they find the niche for themselves in the world of work, they build their capacity and also self-employ in this world of competition.”

Teaching, in the New Age Way 

Dr. Madhavi believes that video as a mode of learning can be a healthy option for Lifelong Learning, as it was already a term but was never used as fully as it is today.

“Online education has opened up so many possibilities though in limited domains of cognition and psychomotor. Interactivity and learner engagement are at the core of any form of education, and online education is no exception to it,” she adds. 

Meeting challenges with a pause

When enquired about the challenges that educational leaders face today, Dr. Madhavi replied, “The biggest challenge is everyone—teachers, students, parents—looking for a ‘fast’ and ‘quick’ success.”

She admits that as both educator and student, one must pause and introspect about the challenges.

Setting an example for a lifelong learning

Dr. Madhavi believes in building a solid foundation in learning among students to set their journey to any instructional design situation. She says, “We are in the era where the mere degree is not helpful, but students look for the opportunities to get experience in the world of work even during their years of study. At SDTWU, the internship is mandatory for the PG programs,” this process helps the students to acquire exposure and confidence.

She further adds, “At the Department of Educational Technology, the students start earning through the stipend even before they have their degree in hand. Some of them had got an opportunity of paid international internship earlier, where they traveled overseas. Pandemic opened up the opportunities of international internships with work from home facilities. All internship opportunities provide the students, experience of working on live projects. The students get trained in all aspects of educational technology and instructional design.”

At a personal level, she also ensures that the students think about the core processes within the instructional design.

Awards and accreditations

 Dr. Madhavi Dharankar has won several awards and accreditations for her priceless contribution to various fields of education. Some of the awards are listed below:

Academic awards:

  • Sara n George McCune Scholarship Award for Summer 2019 Mixed Method Workshop at Univ of Michigan, the USA during June 19 – 21, 2019; Amount: $ 3000; Sara and George McCune Foundation through Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, USA March 26, 2019
  • Travel fund for attending a seminar of “Researcher Competency: Mapping and Management” during March 24 – 25, 2014 at M S University, Baroda; Form of Bursary: Travel, accommodation; By CASE, M S University, Baroda; 21.03.2014
  • Travel fund for attending a seminar of “Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation Implementation: Issues and Concerns” during March 2 – 4, 2012 at M S University, Baroda Form of Bursary: Travel, accommodation: By CASE, M S University, Baroda; 15.02.2012
  • Shiksha Rattan Puraskaar 2012 by India International Friendship Society
  • Bursary award for attending INORMS Conference during June 16 – 19, 2008 in Liverpool, UK; Form of Bursary: Travel, accommodation, and registration; Amount: 700 Pounds; Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), UK; 18.04.2008
  • Subsidy and Sponsorship for attending 5th Pan-Commonwealth Forum (PCF%) on Open Learning at University of London, UK Form of Subsidy: Air ticket to and fro the UK; By Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Canada; 03.04.2008
  • Award for the best paper for the paper titled “Environmental Concerns: An Action Project at School of Education, YCMOU” at Kashibai Navale College of Education and Training, Lonawala, MS during (December 23, 2007); Navapur (2004)
  • Fourth rank at M. Ed. The level at the University of Mumbai (1995)
  • First prize for the Project Report among B. Ed. Students at Department of Adult and Continuing Education and Extension, University of Mumbai (1994)

Miscellaneous Awards

  • Award for the Spirit of service and reaching out to others from St. Xavier’s Institute of Education, Mumbai, MS (1994)
  • Award for the Best Colleague – from Parle Tilak Association’s Vyayamshala, Mumbai, MS, India (1989)

Awards in Sports

  • Xavier’s Institute of Education, Mumbai – Ist prize in Badminton – females singles (1993 – 94)
  • Xavier’s Institute of Education, Mumbai – Ist prize in Badminton – mixed doubles (1993 – 94)
  • Xavier’s Institute of Education, Mumbai – IIIrd prize in Javeline Throw (1993 – 94)
  • Institute of Science, Mumbai – IIIrd prize in Running 400 mt (1992 – 93)

Word of advice from a seasoned educator

Dr. Madhavi encourages curiosity among students, teachers, and peers to make learning an inclusive process.

“One reads books and resources, but reading people is crucial in the field of education as one works with young minds. Maintaining the teacher’s diary/journal serves as a rich source of thoughts, reflections, and ideas. It also serves as an artifact of one’s thinking process and growth. During teaching, if the content/syllabus is linked with the life and living, then it becomes more meaningful to the students, and then the learning becomes more enriching for them,” she further adds.

Dr. Madhavi believes that a teacher should keep writing, expressing through the popular dailies, magazines, and research journals. It is helpful for one’s own professional journey and for future teachers to learn through their experiences.

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