The COVID19 pandemic changed the way the world worked. Individuals and institutions turned on their laptops and found workarounds to regular processes that everyone had taken for granted.
Business schools did pretty much the same. From physical classrooms, they moved the education delivery process online and adopted innovative ways (such as virtual and hybrid learning models) to ensure that the show would go on.
The impact of COVID19 was not just felt in the mode of delivery of MBA programs but also on the MBA syllabus, as seen in the report from the MBA Roundtable, which was prepared after a collective survey involving 155 deans, directors, and faculty members from 118 business schools worldwide.
The majority of the schools (90%) reported that the program’s learning objectives have not changed in any manner due to the pandemic. However when it came to the curriculum content, 50% of the schools reported changes to it.
One noticeable aspect was that several programs saw COVID19 as a topic making an entry into various courses, especially the ones on leadership, ethics, SCM and HR.
A few programs (17%) also offered courses entirely revolving around COVID19. Check out this new and interesting course offered by Wharton.
Among the respondents, one said it wasn’t surprising to see COVID19 seeping into all courses, since that’s pretty much what it has done to every facet of our lives. The integrated way of looking at its impact across management subjects was helpful to students.
Business schools have also adapted in various ways to assist students overcome challenges during this difficult phase. The assignments for most of the courses have been modified.
Additionally, more flexibility with deadlines and the introduction of pass and fail grading are some other changes that were introduced to help students cope better with the academic workload.
Business school assessments have also seen a change. Around 29% have reduced the assessment workload, while 4 out of 10 schools have modified them.
The flexibility in the assessments’ submission deadlines and the grading for exams have made MBA student lives and the overall MBA experience better, in a tough environment.
It doesn’t come as a shock that the biggest impact of COVID19 on MBA education was the manner in which programs and classes were delivered.
Close to 88% of all the surveyed programs changed their program delivery approach. That number rises to 98% when you only consider in-person programs.
At 59% the most favoured model was hybrid delivery, which involved a combination of in-person and online mode teaching.
A considerable chunk (39%) of MBA programs decided to take no chances with safety, and moved their entire program online – cutting out the in-person sessions completely.
These new models of teaching also encouraged business schools to take up innovative approaches in their online and hybrid classes.
Close to 95% of the programs used breakout sessions, making it the most popular option.
They also used messaging and chatting software to ensure communication and interaction between the faculty and students wasn’t curtailed, and the teaching process didn’t turn into a monologue.
A notch lower on the popularity scale, were options such as Q&A tools, gamification and classroom surveys.
Interestingly, lectures took the biggest hit among all these changes. The traditional preferred teaching approach tumbled by 38%, making way for more creative alternatives.
One of them being the concept of ‘flipped classrooms’, which went up by 78%. This approach required students to do all the pre-class reading at home.
That allowed teachers to use the classroom time to focus on problem-solving, making the overall session less theoretical and more practical.
Enrique Dans, a professor at IE Business School, understands the importance of being able to engage students in the class.
If the teacher is the only person talking, there’s no doubt that the same model could be moved online using technology. But that would make it extremely boring, and disengaged students would hate it.
These changes haven’t diminished the confidence of business schools in their academic curriculum. They think it retains the rigour and quality that it was originally designed for.
But it hasn’t been without a few teething problems. Two challenges that stood out were: inclusivity and class engagement.
Around 58% of the respondents felt it had become increasingly more difficult to retain the inclusive student experience after moving online. 86% were of the opinion that student engagement had taken a hit.
MBA student life is much more than classroom experience. There were some challenges in providing the same experience in a COVID19 impacted learning environment.
Around 88% said they found it tough to build a community outside the class now, compared to the pre-COVID19 days when there were events and activities taking place on the campus making it a more vibrant place.
In the absence of in-person meet-and-greet sessions and on-campus extracurriculars, programs turned to Zoom for social activities and events.
If not for the exact experience, these online interaction models still helped students get to know each other better in a more informal setting.
While it would be great to have students back on campus to enjoy the fully immersive experience that business schools are known for, most respondents were aware that the current model of teaching could extend to 2021 and possibly beyond.
Till that happens, it appears like these new teaching models, updated MBA syllabus and workarounds are what we have to live with.
These findings are taken from the report titled ‘Current And Future Impact Of COVID-19 On The Business School Curriculum‘ based on the study done by MBA Roundtable, a non-profit that focuses on creating and sharing data related to innovation in curricula.
For this survey, the team connected with 1500+ participants from 379 business-schools located across the world.
The primary objective was to see how the Corona pandemic had impacted MBA student life and experiences around the globe.
Here’s the distribution of geography and respondent roles.
|Region||Number of respondents|
65% were from full-time MBA, 71% part-time MBA and there were some respondents from masters programs as well.
To find out more about how COVID-19 could impact your business school experience, check out the latest updates on BusinessBecause, a world-leading website for MBA and business master’s candidates.