Dr. Prakash Menon is the kind of professor who hand-wraps his new favorite book and sends it out to colleagues. That’s how much he loves sharing his love learning! Prakash is a regular at Kettering University’s Commencement ceremony where he gets the opportunity to celebrate with his online students. Prakash serves Kettering as a subject matter expert, faculty member, and always delivers a good story and smile.
In this interview, Prakash talks to instructional designer Angela Britcher about his belief that critical reflection, teaching, and learning can lead to transformation.
AB: What degrees do you hold and from where?
- Ph.D. Capella University, Minneapolis, MN. 2008 Organization & Management; Specialization: Leadership
- MBA University of Maryland, University College, MD.
- MS Environmental Management, University of Cincinnati, OH.
- MS Petroleum Engineering, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL.
- BS Chemical Engineering, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, India.
AB: What is your teaching philosophy:
PM: Critical reflection is at the heart of being an effective teacher. Critical reflection involves constant moments of surprise, which I find is an essential element to re-energizing and to bring about transformation. I like to create an environment that encourages collaboration and is student-centered. I find that when faculty and students are sharing and learning from one another, transformation can occur.
Teaching and learning are critical to our individual and collective survival and to the quality of our lives. Transforming education will not happen if we fail to cherish and challenge the human heart that is the source of good teaching. Life’s great journey is one of self-discovery and self-reflection. These two processes provide knowledge, support, and conviction that arouse the curiosity further. Keep the curiosity alive!
AB: Why do you choose to teach online?
PM: Having graduated from an online program, I understand the student perspective. This experience guides me in creating and teaching online. The flexibility and more intense student interactions are the two driving factors that helped me decide to teach online.
AB: How long have you been teaching online?
PM: I have been teaching online for over nine years.
AB: What were your first thoughts about teaching online?
PM: I was apprehensive at first and was worried about connecting with students in a virtual environment. I realized I need to take the lead to communicate with them and establish a safe and trusting relationship. Once this is in place, students were willing to ask questions, seek insights, and engage in an online conversation through the discussion boards and virtual calls.
AB: What has surprised you most about teaching online?
PM: The rigor and structure are what stood out for me. In a brick and mortar environment, it was more relaxed, and there was minimal student-teacher interaction in spite of being face-to-face. The structure of required participation on the discussion boards and responding to fellow students generated more critical thinking than sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures.
AB: What tools do you use to connect with your students in a virtual classroom?
PM: I have used Blackboard Collaborate, WhatsApp, or Skype to connect with students worldwide.
AB: How did you come to teach at KUO and how long have you been teaching with us?
PM: It was my persistence of connecting with Dr. Wallace (Vice President of Kettering Global), through LinkedIn that got me the first telephone interview. We connected well, and she offered me the first opportunity to teach Global Operations Management and Lean Methodologies. I helped developed a Supply Management Course for KUO, as well. I have been teaching consistently at KUO for over four years now.
AB: How do you describe your Kettering students?
PM: I love the variety of students I get to interact with, in my classes. They range from major global corporations to smaller companies, and they bring a wealth of knowledge from a wide array of industry verticals. I am fascinated by the experiences they are willing to share in the class discussions. I learn every time I teach a class through my active participation in the discussions. The quality of our students and the niche lean manufacturing concentrations we deliver through our programs are what keeps me at Kettering.