Collaborating During a Crisis

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Thursday, November 5, 2020
By Leila Guerra, Benoit Arnaud, Nick Barniville
Photo by iStock
Business schools around the world are working together to provide flexible, high-quality, and international degree experiences online.

In an era lacking any precedent for how to move forward, many business schools are feeling stalled in their progress. But schools in the Future of Management Education alliance are discovering innovative ways to evolve, with each other. As leaders at three of these schools, we share our experiences as part of the alliance, discussing how the collaboration has advanced our ability to innovate in a time of great disruption.

Partnerships Driving Change

Headshot of Leila Guerra, Vice Dean, Education, Imperial College Business School By Leila Guerra, Vice Dean, Education, Imperial College Business School

In June 2018, Imperial College Business School co-founded the Future of Management Education alliance (FOME) to develop a response to the growing market demand for flexible, high-quality online education. Since then we have benefitted enormously from the technologies, pedagogies, and knowledge that have emerged from this alliance. However, no activity has been as profound or as impactful as our shared response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

When COVID first arrived and forced institutions to close their doors in March, members of the FOME alliance met weekly online to share experiences and expertise. We benefitted from the perspective of institutions that had already shifted to remote teaching because of the pandemic. 

During this period, we formed a series of subgroups to solve strategic, operational, and technical challenges together. These groups proved indispensable in formulating our tactical response to the crisis and in the setup of our multimodal (or “hyflex”) lecture theaters, which have enhanced remote teaching and allowed many of our students and faculty to return to a combination of campus and high-quality remote teaching. 

Our shared vision of delivering the best student experience and maintaining our academic offerings guided our discussions and provided a fertile ground for innovation. 

However, the focus has not been confined to tactical challenges; the COVID pandemic has acted as a catalyst for innovation. In collaboration with FOME members IE and ESMT, we recently launched our online MiM Essentials Programme, which offers a novel fast-track entry to a Master’s in Management degree.

World-Class Online Degrees

Headshot of By Benoit Arnaud, Dean of Programs, EDHECBy Benoit Arnaud, Dean of Programs, EDHEC

In November 2018, EDHEC Business School joined the FOME alliance to set up the first international diploma on an online platform with seven other leading international business schools: Imperial College Business School, ESMT Berlin, BI Norwegian Business School, IE Madrid, SMU Singapore, Ivey Business School, and Melbourne Business School.

This alliance has enabled EDHEC Online to offer the largest possible number of students access to world-class degree content, supported by cutting-edge technological innovations. Examples of innovation include enhanced social learning to facilitate distance group work, a shared platform to host professors from around the world, and adaptive learning to personalize the educational experience.

Since its launch, EDHEC Online has been working with startups in the fields of edtech, artificial intelligence, and social and adaptive learning to increase support for participants in their online learning experience. For example, students are offered enhanced coaching to help them in real-life workplace situations using immersive methods. EDHEC Online also works with companies on an ongoing basis as part of its online programs. Senior executives from companies such as IBM, Google, Amazon, and SAP regularly develop content for EDHEC online courses and participate in these online courses.

MiM Essentials

Nick BarnivilleBy Nick Barniville, Associate Dean, Degree Programs, and Director, EdTech Lab, ESMT Berlin

Long before the pandemic outbreak, the MiM Essentials Programme was conceived over a lunch in London with two long-standing collaborators and members of the FOME network, Stephanie Villemagne, from IE, and Leila Guerra, from Imperial College Business School. The idea behind the MiM Essentials Programme was to provide a part-time pathway option for those who wanted to learn the fundamentals of management online from three of Europe’s most digitally advanced business schools. The program would enable students to earn credits that they could use later to enter into our respective MSc or MiM programs if they chose to do so.

When the pandemic arrived in Germany in March, we made the commitment to continue serving our students and clients to the best of our abilities. We pivoted the MiM Essentials Programme to a full-time offering, targeting predominantly those whom we knew would not be able to start our degree courses in the autumn term.

ESMT currently offers the MiM Essentials as an alternative to term one of our MiM class. While almost 130 students were able to travel to Berlin and begin their degree course in a hybrid format, 20 students chose the MiM Essentials Programme instead.

The MiM Essentials programme is delivered on a single online platform, Insendi, on which faculty teams from the three partnering business schools teach courses synchronously and asynchronously. While the launch cohort is full-time, with 40 hours of study per week, we plan to continue the program in a part-time format for early-career working professionals beginning in early 2021.

Our close working relationship with IE and Imperial has been a crucial element in the development of this fully online program. MiM Essentials is a great opportunity for students who need a flexible start to their business education, not only during this time but in the post-pandemic world.

Leila Guerra
Vice Dean, Education, Imperial College Business School
Benoit Arnaud
Dean of Programs, EDHEC
Nick Barniville
Associate Dean, Degree Programs; Director, EdTech Lab, ESMT Berlin
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
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