Structural Readjustments Required In B-Schools To Meet Today's Requirements
Growing demand for online education, the acceptance of online certificates towards valid degrees and the reluctance of students to travel for education have all been a boon and a bane for B-schools
There is no doubt that the world today is rapidly changing around us. Does that make it imperative for B-schools also to change?
The latest adage in town is that COVID-19 has proven to be the catalyst for all changes—digital or otherwise. While this is true for humankind in general, it is truer for B-schools that are pivoting towards the ‘new normal’. Growing demand for online education, the acceptance of online certificates towards valid degrees and the reluctance of students to travel for education have all been a boon and a bane for B-schools today. Several top B-schools in the country and overseas are catering to this burgeoning need by restructuring and readjusting their offerings to meet today’s requirement. Take for example, Havard Business Publishing’s new and improved online ‘faculty lounge’ that allows faculty members of B-schools to upskill their online expertise.
While these efforts are shot-in-arm doses of the on-setting revolution in education, a structural change is what will bring about sustainability in the future.
In order to bring to the table strategies that sustain, B-schools must watch the trends and create structural adjustments to their programme.
Trends in Education Requirements
Offline to online: On the one hand, the demand for on-campus full-time MBA programmes are losing luster, which is visible from the drop in admissions across B-schools. On the other hand, online courses and programmes are gaining traction. This movement from offline to online will significantly affect B-school intake in the coming years.
200 to 2000 in a click: While a typical offline experience needs the support of a well-laid infrastructure such as hostel rooms, canteen, break-out areas, healthcare and recreation on campus, an online course does not need most of that. Therefore, the standard class size in a B-school can move from 200 to 2,000 in just a few clicks.
Loss of jobs and career amputation: Job losses and sudden lack of income are predicted for the future in most industries. Early signs are already visible, especially in the airline industry, leisure and hospitality industry, retail industry, business and professional services and such others. Future job prospects also seem bleak. One of the reasons for demand in management degrees—better job prospects are also in doubt.
Trust erosion: Trust in organizations, services and in general among humanity is slowly depleting in current times. Organizations are unsure whether work from home will lead to any productive work, educational institutions are skeptical of dubious results of online exams. The food we eat, the people we meet are all considered with caution and doubt. This effect on the human psyche is lasting and may create a change in how we look at the world in various far reaching ways.
Structural Readjustments in B-schools
Blended learning: Blended learning is a combination of out-of-class preparation and in-class discussion. In several B-schools blended learning was at best at an experimental stage. However, today the online experience calls for a structural change in contact sessions in B-schools. What earlier used to be a platform for imparting knowledge must now be a source for active interaction. Pre-recorded videos can form a part of asynchronous learning that learners can choose to watch at their convenience. Synchronous online sessions must be devoted to interactions between learners and faculty in the most optimum fashion. Casual interaction between learners outside of class which was taken for granted in the past, must be woven into the fabric of the new schedule for student to student interaction.
AI for student management: When class sizes grow from 200 to 2,000, it is important to monitor the learning experience of each student. This is possible through a structured approach of using artificial intelligence to learner databases. Easy dashboards can keep faculty administrators informed of the progress of the learner and suggest ways to bridge learning gaps for students. While online platforms are equipped with such smart systems, B-schools must bring structural changes to student management systems to stay onboard.
Employer dependent to self-sustenance: The focus of B-schools must change from providing jobs to creating self-sustaining entrepreneurs amongst the fresh batch of management graduates. This mindset change can be nurtured through structural changes in curriculum. By including more subjects in innovation and entrepreneurship in B-school curricula and mentoring support, the entire focus and lookout of a B-school degree outcome can go through a structural change.
Measurement of learning outcomes: In the past, all B-schools operated on proctored exams that monitored students during examinations. In a bold new normal, B-schools must develop trust in online exams through a practice of layered evaluations. Self-evaluation and peer evaluations layered on faculty evaluations in combination with online quizzes can be one of the many ways in which learning outcomes are measured. This will require a complete structural change to evaluations