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Meet Dr. Harshavardhan (Harsh) Kale, the Campus Director of our Abbotsford Campus and Director of Continuing Education. Harsh is an avid reader and artist at heart, supporter of high-quality education, and is passionate about creating educational programs that help Ashton’s students succeed. In his spare time, Harsh enjoys exploring local nature hikes in Abbotsford BC with his wife, ensuring to visit as many of Canada’s lakes as possible.
For the past 8 years, Harsh has been a strong advocate of the “quality and affordable education for all” philosophy. Harsh joined Ashton in 2017 and has been working since to carry out this philosophy.
With a strong background in the post-secondary education sector, Harsh is taking an active leadership role in developing, planning and managing a number of new Continuing Education courses at Ashton College. Having developed many courses for the Continuing Education Department of a University, Harsh has been able to use his previous experience to identify new career opportunities and courses for CE students.
Harsh served as Doctor of General Medicine in India for 10 years, before moving into the education sector. After completing a Master’s in Public Health at the Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom, he became a facilitator and acquired a certified master trainer designation. Harsh believes he is a “medical academician at heart,” and has successfully facilitated over 2000 workshops and trained over 10000 people including doctors, nurses, allied healthcare personnel and students of various age groups.
He has goals of introducing innovative and market driven continuing education courses, which will benefit students and introduce skilled people to various career opportunities in Canada. Through Continuing Education courses, Harsh wants to provide a bridge many people are looking for to advance their careers.
So, what is the best advice for how to create effective courses to help others advance in their careers and personal development? “It starts with providing quality education,” says Harsh, “education that is standardized and has carefully defined learning objectives. Because there are so many colleges, so many institutions offering the same program, this process must go beyond simply teaching from a textbook on a schedule. Where quality education comes in is that you need to have all the programs standardized, you need to define what the learning objectives are for each course and how each session affects the following one. This involves detailed planning, and never losing scope of the bigger picture – never compromising on quality. Our students are here for continuing their education paths; they are here for high quality knowledge.”
Harsh explains that another reason we must focus on delivering quality education is because there is “a stark difference here for people getting into continuing education because they want to, as opposed to because they have to. Students that are here with the desire to learn more and to upgrade their knowledge understand that they need to upgrade their skills and know that they can use this knowledge as a steppingstone to progress in their career. For them, it is a conscious choice. And that is the reason that when it comes to imparting knowledge in continuing education, we have to be absolutely sure that we are providing the best quality educational products, and nothing else.”
For Harsh, it is also important to ensure that Ashton College’s courses offer a competitive edge. So, what is the magic differentiating factor that sets Ashton College apart from other providers? Along with quality and affordability, it is also the “latest resources we provide that stand out. [Compared to other education providers], the amount of resources that you get, the amount of instructor time that you get, the number of interactive sessions that you get, simply cannot compare to other colleges. We also ensure that the resources you get are standardized and meet the highest Canadian standards, as opposed to those that been developed by institutes in-house. We get in touch with respective and recognized organizations and any awarding bodies and obtain educational resources directly from them.”
To support this further, Harsh is dedicated to hiring instructors with the right “fit”: “Along with qualifications, it is important for us to ensure that our instructors are interactive enough to deliver all these programs live, online. Otherwise it’s a monologue. And students do not want to hear a monologue. They want to be engaged! Moreover, I would want the instructor to have the necessary subject knowledge, but there’s a bit of a difference between having a knowledge and able to disseminate the knowledge and be able to impart that knowledge to your students. Being able to share knowledge in an interactive, activity-driven way is a powerful skill that we look for carefully.”[It is no wonder why when asked about his favourite subject to teach, Harsh explains that it is “Business Communications – because I can have any number of exercises and run numerous activities in business communication. Anything can be about communication. It never gets stale! I can have a 15-day course and run 15 different activities each day each time I teach the course.”]
Furthermore, Harsh believes that in today’s socially distanced world, it is more important than ever to move learning far beyond simply showcasing pre-recorded classroom sessions: by guaranteeing enough interactive instructor time each week, students can be confident and remain interested in the subject matter, and make sure all their questions are addressed in a timely manner. “This time is dedicated to help students solve their queries, pose the necessary questions to their instructor, interact with them organically and gain more knowledge. To meet the learning demands in today’s challenging world, we are using the full Zoom education platform with live online exams, breakout rooms and other learning activities. It’s a virtual classroom. It is a classroom. But at the comfort of your home!”
“Take the time to choose your program correctly and recognize that you are here to gain knowledge, not to save money [by choosing a less expensive program somewhere else]. Learn for knowledge, not for money”, says Harsh. “Money is temporary. Knowledge is constant.”