What is the future of management education?

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The Wharton School is the newest business school to offer an MBA primarily online, launching a global executive MBA with a price tag of $214,800. While Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, MIT Sloan, and other prestigious schools offer a growing range of conducted courses and certificate programs online, this is the first of the M7 schools to offer a coeducational option offered at 75% online.

It’s another reminder that digital is a key focus of the future for virtually all business schools. But while Wharton describes how they can leverage the extensive online teaching skills they’ve gained while guiding hundreds of students through the pandemic, many schools developed, strengthened and refined their digital learning offerings long before Covid forced them to do so.

The Future of Management Education (FOME) Alliance was launched in 2018, “gathering a group of like-minded business schools with a total commitment to a quality student experience in hybrid and online settings,” explains Nick Barniville, former Associate Dean of Degree Programs at ESMT Berlin, one of the founding members of the Alliance. Harnessing the power of content sharing and virtual exchange through insendi, a state-of-the-art learning platform developed by Dr. David Lefevre and Marc Wells for Imperial College London, partner schools can copy or share content with the click of a button.

The growing list of members includes leading business schools from across Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific. They were specifically chosen for “what they can add to the alliance, be it through their expertise with blended or online learning, their geographic reach or their intent to invest and adopt new technologies,” said Pascale Crama, academic director of the Blended Master of Science Management program at Singapore Management University.

The Belgian Vlerick Business School has recently joined the FOME Alliance and for the Dean, Marion Debruyne, the member schools all share the common goal of wanting to invest in an impactful online learning experience. “What we can learn from each other – best practices, do’s and don’ts, what worked, what didn’t – is really helpful because it makes for a better learning experience for all our students and puts us at the forefront of digital learning. .”

It is the emphasis on the student experience that has led many of these leading business schools to move from competition to collaboration, to ensure that their students all receive the most innovative, immersive and accessible experience possible. “Working together allows us to address common challenges, share best practices and provide a better experience for all students around the world, with student wellbeing and development at the forefront of our decisions,” affirms Leila Guerra, Vice Dean of Programs at Imperial College Business School, one of the Alliance’s founding schools.

“One school rarely has the resources needed to experiment with pedagogy and technology to develop sustainable concepts.” said Anne Berit Swanberg, Associate Professor at Founding Alliance Members, BI Norwegian Business School. “At FOME, we’ve built a community of practice to help every school move forward and succeed. As the old saying goes, together we get stronger.”

Growing stronger together is a motto echoed by Nick Barniville, who has now founded an EdTech consultancy, Gomera Tech, to help universities, especially business schools, implement a successful online or digitization strategy. He highlights technology scouting, learning analytics, content sharing, and instructional design as some of the key benefits of collaboration. “By bringing together some of the best brains in the industry to tackle challenges together, we can develop a better student experience. A lot of brains are better than a little,” he says.

But business schools face more challenges than just implementing new technologies and improving the student experience. Students want more from their graduate management training programs, and the student experience must be adapted to accommodate these challenges in their chosen industries.

Drawing on Imperial’s globally recognized excellence in innovation, data analytics, healthcare and climate change, the business school already offers a growing number of specialist masters, from an MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance to an MSc International Health Management. “Social impact and actions to address climate change will be an integral part of all business school programs,” said Leila Guerra. “Business Schools have an important role to play and will act upon it.”

Nick Barniville agrees that climate change is a key issue for the future of management education, although he warns against the overuse of buzzwords. “I don’t understand why we have to use the word ‘sustainability’ all the time, because sometimes it seems vague,” says. “The real issue we need to address is whether business will continue to have legitimacy in democratic societies if our environment can no longer support business practices,” he says.

So how is the FOME Alliance likely to respond to future management education challenges, as well as broader, global challenges? “The challenge is how to create an enriching learning experience that our students value, by shifting from a traditional brick-and-mortar enterprise to an integrated model with fluid use of both face-to-face and online learning,” said SME’s Pascale Crama.

“The Alliance will continue to innovate both as individual schools, but also as an academic partnership,” added Leila Guerra, who believes schools “must adapt to hybrid environments and cross-school program experiences that integrate cutting-edge technology to enhance the school.” further personalization.

And as all schools face similar future challenges, it is clear that collaboration is essential to directly address these issues and implement solutions. Nick Barniville believes that “Growth of the Alliance is based on the willingness and ability of potential new members to contribute to our understanding of the future of management education.”

“No business school has only the knowledge needed to meet future challenges,” says Anne Berit Swanberg, and working together, rather than competing, is clearly the best way to improve the student experience, further implement technologies into programs and face the challenges of future management education first.

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