The current full-on switch to online learning and studying remotely provides many useful lessons for everyone involved in business and management education. Some of these lessons are uniquely valuable to MBA participants as they explore their future careers. Others are also worth investigating by schools that wish to innovate their offerings in the long run.
What are some avenues to explore?
More time to plan your future
Even before the Covid-19 outbreak, students who chose online education reaped the benefits of saving valuable time commuting, investing it instead on mapping out their careers. Now that so many MBA courses are taking place online, participants are discovering that this is an opportunity to think outside the box.
“It is weird, but life goes on and I have time now to plan my future better than if I was in a full-time job,” Ed Boyanoski, a first-year MBA student at London Business School (UK), told the Financial Times. This is a valuable lesson not only for online students but also for on-campus learners who recognise the importance of networking, career planning, and extracurricular activities for future growth.
Unique set of student services
Attending business school involves many experiences which are just as important as the learning. For example, class participants should have access to professional guidance about their career development and support for international student matters.
A report published by the Higher Education Policy Institute about the changes that have taken place in UK education while transitioning online suggests that students in distance learning courses need improved access to mental health support, financial planning, and career guidance.
“The answer is not necessarily to replicate the exact support and provision available on campus, or to offer piecemeal online offerings,” added author Dr Gary Gates, Senior Vice President of Pearson. “Ideally a realistic alternative should be developed that suits the needs of online students and offers them an equivalence of support.”
More online learning ahead
Certainly, many universities have already discovered that disruptive change can be an opportunity for growth. While transitioning to online learning has been a challenging task accomplished under pressure, it has also demonstrated the great potential of this niche in education.
Gregory A Brightbill, Leadership Education and Involvement Programme Specialist at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (US), is one of the many experts who are excited about the future of learning online. He shared in his blog post:
“More and more students, staff, and faculty will break away from the stigma that they must exist within the physical bubble of an institution and discover that knowledge can be shared across vast distances.”
Collaborating across institutions
During this time of social distancing, universities have the opportunity not only to test new methods of learning remotely, but also to explore how to collaborate better.
This notion is shared by Paul Almeida, Dean of Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business (US). He believes that there is great potential in utilising remote work in a way that enables faculty researchers to visit other college labs and work together with other universities.
Mr Almeida told the Financial Times: “This crisis has planted seeds for innovation and transformation in the use of technology, about the potential for using our buildings differently so that people can study more flexibly and staff can telework.”
Given the current circumstances, university students and international business schools will have many takeaways to consider and implement in their learning practices once the Covid-19 protective measures are fully lifted. But online learning and collaboration will stay at a higher level.