The MBA Classroom That Knows When You Lose Interest

The MBA Classroom That Knows When You Lose Interest

The MBA classroom, dubbed the "WOW" room, or the "Window on the World”, is what the Spanish school believes is the future of MBA programmes, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The room enables faculty members to deliver course units to an audio-visual mosaic wall of students watching via video camera. A software application monitors the video streams and evaluates students' reactions. It can detect mood changes and is able to notify the lecturer of angry or bored students.

Jolanta Golanowska, Director of Learning Innovation at IE, says that the data helps faculty members improve their lectures.

IE launched the WOW room in October 2016 in an attempt to replicate the lecture theatre experience in a virtual space. It allows faculty to sense the energy of the students even though they aren't physically there.

MBA instruction has remained relatively unchanged in recent decades, particularly in traditional full-time programmes. However, over the past five years, business schools have increased their offerings of programmes that combine online components with face-to-face elements, says Tom Robinson, president and chief executive of AACSB International, an accrediting organisation for business schools.

These blended programmes look to offer the intense levels of student interaction and engagement found in live programmes and are referred to as "high-touch." According to Robinson,

All programmes will be blended in the future, it's just a matter of where on the spectrum.

In the past few years, blended programmes have started to show greater technological sophistication, says Robinson. He ranks London's Imperial College Business School and IE among the vanguard.

Check out: Top B-schools Embrace New MBA Online Technology

In the US, he says, the online MBAs at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and at University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School are two "great examples" of high-touch.

Last month, a group of business schools and education technology providers convened at Imperial College Business School to share their thoughts on digital disruption and the future of business education.

Imperial's Global Online MBA, launched two years ago, is delivered almost entirely online. Students make just two face-to-face campus visits during the two-year programme: One week at the beginning of the course to create a "team mentality" and two weeks at the start of the second year. Students can, however, attend on-campus modules at any point.

Dr. David Lefevre, director of Imperial College Business School's Edtech Lab, says the school is trying to replicate the personalisation and intensity of experience that characterises the traditional MBA programme.

The programme's Hub is a virtual locale where students access course material, watch lectures, engage with faculty and other students, and attend virtual tutorials. Dr. Lefevre says approximately 23% of his courses are accessed on mobile devices.

Students might learn theory in a five-minute lecture, answer questions to create a word cloud of the responses, and then use an interactive tool to experiment with their newfound learning.

Administrators at Imperial College keep group sizes small, and the programme is delivered by the same faculty who teach traditional campus-based courses—factors that Dr. Lefevre says, separate the programme from traditional online and distance learning MBAs.

The program has some limitations, Dr. Lefevre says.

In the case study approach there is an intensity to the experience so the professor is the conductor in the middle of the class putting students on the spot...Can we replicate that particular dynamic online as effectively as the classroom? No, we can't.

In IE's WOW room, case studies can last 72 hours. Faculty members connect multiple times a day to shape the online discussion. Golanowska says:

Our students, usually the ones who are the most excited, will sit there with their mobile phone on the way to work...and keep checking into the discussion.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


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