Delivering digital winners; the role of business schools in driving commercial success
The business landscape has been fundamentally changed by the application of digital technologies, and progress continues at an ever increasing pace. Companies across the globe are enlisting innovations like the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), in the fight to protect entrenched positions or dislodge incumbents. Not to mention the need to stay ahead of disruptors! And the fierce competition that comes with digital disruption means that companies can no longer be complacent. They can either seize the opportunity – like game-changers Netflix or Instagram – or see their business disappear – like Kodak or Blockbuster.
The crucial role of advanced education
Of course, innovation begins with the brightest minds, and this is why, for us, the pathway to digital success and commercial growth starts not in the boardroom, but in the classroom. It is perhaps no surprise that executive learning is one of the fastest growing sectors in higher education – as institutions seek to offer an engaging and flexible learning experience which delivers adaptable, fearless and able leaders.
MBAs, eMBAs, executive programmes and other advanced business degrees have always provided students with the ability to expand their real-world commercial knowledge in a specific sector – and to make graduates more marketable to prospective employers. But while specialism is still important, the role of the MBA has expanded to meet the demands of a fast changing, digital, business landscape – and must now provide a diverse range skills capable of morphing to suit the changing workspace.
A global employment market which is changing at an unprecedented pace means that institutions need to provide education and skills for jobs which may not even exist yet. And, so, problem solving, risk-taking, independent learning and (perhaps conversely) collaborative abilities are all more highly valued than ever, together with the ability to operate in an international business landscape.
A global study by the Association of MBAs and the Education Centre for Excellence at Parthenon-EY recently demonstrated the scale of this challenge, exploring how advanced education providers must not just deliver a new type of education, but to a new type of student – who is often already in employment, with multiple commitments – and is sometimes hamstrung by entrenched learning experiences and methods. The report asserts the importance of ensuring MBA programmes are taught in ways that maximise engagement with students and don’t conform to typical teaching models – and says that this is the biggest challenge faced by senior decision-makers. Blended learning models, where diversified delivery methods are prioritised, are increasingly important.
The technology solution
For us, these stern challenges mean that the use of technology to assist the delivery of an engaging and motivating education experience is no longer a luxury for business schools – it’s now a necessity. The most innovative tech can help institutions fundamentally change pedagogy and deliver a flexible, progressive and student-centred approach which focuses on meeting these demands and providing skills-focused study.
Technology can influence not just what we learn, but how we learn. Online learning creates a more independent learning environment, while enabling broader and deeper collaboration. It can also help develop critical thinking skills and facilitate the application of knowledge, making education a much more practical and tangible experience.
Using technology to prioritise a skills-focused learning approach is now crucial for business schools. We believe it has a critical role in ensuring the success of the entire employment ecosystem, from individuals’ careers to the prosperity of businesses, industries and even economies.
And, of course technology is not just an engine for success but also a mechanism to deliver competitive advantage. Business schools which offer an immersive learning environment are ultimately the most attractive in a fiercely competitive landscape.
The AMBA study reported that nearly 40% of schools are diversified across delivery mode and 50% offer either fully online or blended courses. Many business programmes have started to embrace the flipped classroom model, in which instructional content is consumed outside of the classroom and activities and discussions take place in the classroom. When delivering face-to-face and blended business programmes, it is important that educators focus on educating and that they be provided with a learning management system (LMS) that saves time through an agile course design process allowing to deliver social, collaborative and blended learning.
Educators can begin to deliver a more holistic education experience by harnessing the power of Canvas. Our Learning Management System (LMS) can power a collaborative, self-directed learning environment where students are able to develop new skills, apply knowledge and get better feedback. Canvas adjusts to changing institutional needs, providing students with a crucial bridge to the industry and delivering flexible professional development to those already in employment.
If you want to know how the Canvas LMS can help your institution to innovate and capture more market share, visit our website.
By Bas Ten Holter, Director for Higher Education Europe at Canvas by Instructure