Business education has always occupied a unique space in the academic environment. Precariously straddling, and frequently hopping between, practical application and academically rigorous theory, the sector is regularly in a state of flux, reinventing itself as business, education and the workforce shift around it. As the educational landscape veers towards the online environment and the world’s supply of young workers is increasingly being located throughout the developing world, business educators must once again re-examine their methods and modes.
By Page Schindler Buchanan from the Global Business School Network
At a recent summit hosted by the Global Business School Network (GBSN) at INSEAD’s Asia campus in Singapore, leading business educators from around the globe explored how technology is enabling new business models that expand the management education market and how it is changing the way that people learn in emerging markets.
“Over the past few years we have seen revolutionary changes in access to education for the developing world thanks to technology,” said Guy Pfeffermann, founder and CEO of GBSN.
“Online learning tools, and especially mobile, can provide unheard of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders in these markets.”
According to Vinika Devasar Rao, Executive Director of INSEAD’s Emerging Markets Institute, technology has had a two-fold effect on management education. “First, it has provided access to education to a whole new audience, especially in emerging markets, which have a large percentage of economically disadvantaged populations. Second, it has improved the learning experience of current students, with the use of new tools and digital enhancements. It is an exciting new realm of possibilities, and INSEAD is at the forefront of using technology to improve the learning experience both within and outside the traditional classroom.”
The summit featured panel discussions with innovators in business education from Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe sharing their experiences with using technologies such as telepresence, social media, online lectures, webinars and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to enhance the quality and reach of educational programmes.
Three major themes echoed throughout the delegates’ discussion at the summit.
1. Learning is about engagement, networking and interpersonal interaction, not just viewing lectures and responding to multiple-choice quizzes. Delegates emphasised how the use of technology in education needs to reflect the complex ways that people learn.
2. Institutional inertia of educational institutions can be a major barrier to adoption of new ways of teaching, including questions about how to train, compensate and value faculty. However, that inertia must be overcome because, as Mark Fenton-O’Creevy of The Open University noted, “in the corporate world, it’s the new normal. For them it is not about if they use online education and tools, but how to capture the benefits and minimise the challenges, such as retaining local context.”
3. Mobile technology holds potential to scale management education for developing country markets. Adetunji Adegbesan, founder of Gidimo, a mobile learning platform in Nigeria and Professor of Strategy at Lagos Business School said, “Mobile can’t replace 100% of the business school experience, but we can only provide that to 500 people. What if we could get 40% of that experience to 100 million people?”
The youth population throughout the developing world is growing rapidly, as is unemployment and civil unrest. Business training, management skills and leadership acumen will be critical if these emerging markets are to flourish. We cannot teach the same things, in the same ways, to the same people and expect that to be enough to fill the huge need for talent our world has in the coming decades. Educational institutions, governments, development agencies and industry will need to consider these three important points as they look for ways to ensure a prosperous future.
For over a decade the Global Business School Network has worked to address the crippling waste of talent and resources in the developing world caused by a severe shortage of people with business and management skills. Harnessing the power of an international network of over 60 leading business schools, GBSN facilitates cross-border networking, knowledge sharing and collaboration that strengthen management education for developing countries. For more information please visit http://www.gbsn.org.