The Talk: Hasnain Badami on TSB, Online Education and its Future

Feb 22, 2019 by Mohsin Raza

The Talk

From the earliest stone tools of human history to modern ages’ gadgets we have seen a tremendous shift in technology. From craving on the stones to the network of devices which store, transmit and exchange information; the technological progress is incredible.  After all, change is the only constant of our lives be it the smallest particle of the world or the contemporary times we live in.

We have now entered into the dramatic era of continuous flux. This is the era of information and disruption. In these revolutionary times, we constantly come across mainstream words such as Artificial intelligence, Internet of things(IoT), virtual reality, and disruption. Every day we see innovations in every sector related to health, business, or technology. Not only this, but we also observe revolutionary models in education. Unfortunately, the transformation in the Pakistani educational sector is rather exceptional.

If the world is writing on the sky we are stuck with tradition blackboard and chalk method where a teacher only delivers the lecture standing up and students make an exact copy of the lecture on their notes. Nevertheless, given the widespread use of technology, Pakistanis are now on the right track of bringing a revolution in the education system. Day-by-day we are observing systemic reforms in our educational methods, processes and content production. The process is slow but it is there.

Recently we have seen some enhancement in the educational sector with the entrance of EdTech companies in Pakistan. Among these EdTech companies, one of them is The School of Business Education.

The School of Business-TSB was launched on Sep 27th, 2017 and within few months, students not only from Pakistan but from the Middle East, UK, US, Canada, and India are using this platform for their CA/ ACCA/ ICMA, etc studies.

Accounting/ finance students are lucky that TSB is transforming accountancy education.  Now the CA/ ACCA students have new ways to learn which does not demand to make a compromise on jobs or the daily routine. A student can manage his/her studies along with professional and extracurricular activities.

This interview provides an insight into the making of The School of Business as well as how and why he started this journey. Before starting the formal interview, let me give you a brief background about him.

Hasnain R. Badami started The School of Business Education with the mission “To make quality education affordable and accessible”. As per him, no individual should be denied from education, just because of lack of finance and money. He is a renowned chartered accountant as well as a great mentor. He is also a gold medalist in Philosophy with the area of research in Critical thinking skill.

So let’s began

1. First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude for letting me interview you today and for giving me a bit of your time despite your busy schedule. Your academic background is very interesting, a unique combination of Humanities and Business but it leaves out a lot of your life story. That is why my first question to you who is Hasnain Badami and how you see yourself?

HB: I am delighted, Thank you, basically I am a chartered accountant but if I want to find out about myself, authentically speaking, I am a teacher. In fact more than a teacher I am a learner. I started my career from Audit Firm after that I joined Engro but I always had this feeling that I want to be in the Learning and Development profession. I had a passion for teaching and this is exactly why I left Engro to pursue my passion. I believe every one of us should live in two states. That is the Learning and Teaching state. My dream was only possible when I  had to choose in between my teaching career and Job. But to seek my passion I left the corporate organization and I go into this world of learning and development full time.

2. Why was the TSB education platform created?

HB: The reason why we developed TSB is that education is something that is very close to my heart. With TSB, we are addressing three major issues that are faced by lots of students:  

  1. Quality Education: Unavailability of quality education in most of the cases.
  2. Affordability: The second biggest problem is Affordability. Mass Majority cannot afford a quality education.
  3. Accessibility: In some of the cases where students can even afford quality education, but usually they do not have access to it.

A student would be very lucky if he/ she has access to quality education and can afford it too.

3. So you mentioned. You do training. Please tell the reader what kind of training you do?

HB: My area of training is more into thinking skills. I’ve done masters in Philosophy as well. It’s one of the areas in which I believe there are multiple options in the corporate world and there are different thinking skills program just as in education. There are numerous different critical thinking programs. As well as I am also from Finance background as most people know of me that’s why I conduct Finance and non-finance and Finance and Business Acumen programs. So the variety is huge in which I do training in Developmental program and Finance Programs.

4. How did you start TSB?

HB: I wanted to make an online accounting platform and my friends used to laugh at this thought. The thought of TSB came in 2011-12 when I was doing my CA. I still remember telling my friends that there should be a platform like this and a lot of people used to make fun of me because at that time 4G wasn’t introduced. Smartphones weren’t part of popular culture as it is now. However, the world was already on that track.

I always thought that it’s possible and luckily I met Wajahat and learning pitch and we found chemistry on how to establish a platform that could not only accessible for the students but also accessible for the teachers so that they become a part of it as well.

Now we say to our teachers that you don’t have to worry about technology. You don’t have to worry about marketing. You don’t have to worry about for example administrative, support and technology issues. The only task a teacher should be concerned about is the lecture recording. All the teacher have to do is to come and let their lectures be recorded then the rest of the work is done by our team.

We have a highly productive and creative team who work on editing and post editing. They also work on different and new ideas. Due to our effective team members, we have created this platform.

Because of technology, teachers feel very much empowered. As now they can reach out to those areas which they never thought of reaching in the first place. The reach of this platform is definitely great.

5. What do you think how far we are left behind from the West in terms of Online educational technology?

HB: In terms of technology we are definitely behind as we do not have all that high technological types of equipment they have. As well as in terms of content, we have not produced much content comparing to them. West started working 15 to 20 years ago and within this decade we see Edx emerging as a prominent platform which is working on education. Then there is Coursera and others as well. A lot of work has been done in 2010. Now the universities are launching online courses.   However, in Pakistan, we are a bit late. They worked on their content back then and still working on it, but we are starting to work on content now and I think the pace will only increase with the passing years. Moreover, we also observe addition in the field of content in terms of simulation, animations. With all of this facility, we see enrichment in the quality of content.

Moreover, things are not only limited to tablets and smartphones but now students can learn through games. On the one hand, students will learn from the lecture and on the other, games, animations and simulations will reinforce their learning of the content.

6. How much do you agree that games are effective and impactful to reinforce learning? Would students learn from games?

HB: The humans started learning from games whether its a child or an adult. Psychologists say that fun and playing is the best mode to learn. Moreover, through games, we can draw connections and link with difficult concepts. I was reading an article the other day in which there was a quote of Bill Gates who maintains that ‘’if you are curious then these are the best times to live in this world because everything is in your hands’’.

If you want to learn anything read some articles if you want to learn anything plays some games around that concept, to reinforce yourself watch a good video around it to boost your learning. So it’s just not the boring way of listening to a lecture or even not a boring way for example listening or reading a book. So we have multiple ways of learning a new concept in a very short time. Just watch a 3-4 minutes video with animations. You might have noticed most of the content on social media engages videos. Just scroll down in your newsfeed and you will see instances of it. Rather than textual statuses we now see more videos, animations, and clips. And definitely, these are the best times to live in.

7. So comparing the past with the present what differences do you see between both teaching methodologies?

HB: If you see there was only one way of communication in earlier times. Only the telling style. The child was given instructions and that was the only mode to learn, I am not sure if the child learned that concept effectively or not but it was the key mode of instructions but now interactive and engaging methodologies have been introduced. What we do in TSB is that we upload our lectures on a weekly basis as well as students are informed about their homework and assignment for the week. Similarly, they are told what to read and prepare themselves before the next lecture. As well the teachers and students are connected through WhatsApp groups where there are also informed about the webinars and their queries are answered timely. Likewise when the exams are near the frequency of webinars and lectures updates also increases. Besides all this, there are also discussion forums where students can interact with each other. In present times if someone is following only the whiteboard class method then things need to be changed just as all the classroom methods are shifting toward digital method. With the advancement of technology and online lecture, you can watch the lectures time and again. Not only this, but our traditional classrooms are also integrating digital technology in their classrooms. There are teachers who play recorded lectures to change the flavor of students. Students watching you or the videos on a big widescreen gives flavor to the classroom as well.

As well as now teachers are not dependent on student nor does the students. Teachers can record lots of questions which are usually not answered due to time limitations. Hence, the teacher can also give access to the question bank from which students can take help. If they want to listen to the solution they can. If they want to practice and check the answers they can. So a lot of empowerment is there in today’s world. Comparing the present to older times, I would say there wasn’t this much empowerment back them.

8. Sir, Do you think all this work is going to burden the teachers? Shifting towards students’ centered classroom?

HB: Of course, look at this way now the students are not dependent on the teachers to teach them a particular subject or topic. Most of the work is done to empower students. There was a time when teachers used to wait on students and would demand if there are 50 students only then the lecture will be delivered. Neither do the students wait for the teacher to take them at his/her own pace. Now students can learn at their own pace.

9. In earlier times we see that there was a connection between a teacher and a student. Do you think with the advancement of distance learning would that connection ever develop?

HB: It’s a great question and I would like to answer this question. Look, when I started lecture recording I had no particular student badge. In the last badge, I had 65 students from all over the places such as Dubai, Saudia, UK, Bahawalpur, Islamabad, Lahore as well as from Karachi. Our students’ badge was launched after a couple of recordings. When I conducted my first webinar I realized whenever I talk the students are listening to me. I am talking to Umair or for example, I am talking to Mohsin. Then I realized behind the camera there are students who are listening to me or there are people who will listen to me.

I felt the human connection at a teacher’s level just after I noticed the impact on the students. I know there is a possibility that the connection is not the same as traditional relations built in the classroom but it’s not absent. I believe that only the method has been changed but the interaction is still the same.

In fact, last time, I called each and every student of mine before their exam and I also talked to them. Not only this, I leave messages on Whatsapp group. My students listen to my voice I also share my videos there. So I know students are connected.

You see, the connection is built from both side. I feel that the connection is present but it’s in a different form. Indeed it’s a great one as students call me from Islamabad, Dubai or Peshawar. Otherwise, if it wasn’t present in the first place people would not contact me at all. I only observed the form changing but the interaction and connection are present.

10. You know, as in advertisements people are addressed directly as if the advertisement is made just for them but primarily the marketing strategy is to hook you and look at you as potential consumers, do you think online education is doing the same thing?

HB: Look, it all depends upon the teaching philosophy and with what motive you are working and teaching. There are people who see students as easy money bids. Whenever they look at the students they would only see dollar signs circling around the student’s head. This is what they only see. Nevertheless, there are teachers who look at students as students and not as consumers or not as clients or customers. So I think it depends on the teacher as well the philosophy of the institution.

Our vision and mission are that we don’t want to be the best-earning platform. We want to be the platform which is providing quality education to most people at affordable rates. This is our vision and this is where we want to see ourselves.  

11. On the end note, what is the future of TSB? Where do you see yourselves in the upcoming years?

HB: In a couple of years we will become regional leading accounting online institute and when we talk about the region we talk about India, Pakistan, UAE, and all those Urdu and Hindi speaking areas where Urdu and Hindi speaking people are present. We definitely see ourselves as a leading Online Institute. Insha Allah


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