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Stories from CanvasCon: AMBA Hosts Our Business School Community

In October, we hosted a roundtable for our Business School community as part of an ongoing series of discussions regarding educational technology in business schools and executive education. Hosted by Matthew Evans, Regional Director and Melissa Loble, VP of CS and Partnerships at Instructure, and Will Dawes of AMBA, the roundtable had over forty-five representatives from top business schools across Europe, including London and Vlerick Business Schools, EDHEC, and IESE.

Will Dawes, Research and Insights Manager at the Association of MBAs (AMBA), came to CanvasCon packed with insights into the business school world and trends. Gathered from business school leader and MBA graduates’ feedback, Will presented highlights of the latest Business School trends, to be published by AMBA and Instructure in January 2020, alongside how technology might shape the future of management education.

Key insights included:

  • Business Schools remain largely classroom-based, but there is increasing use of online or blended learning. Between 2016 and 2019, Online or blended MBAs nearly doubled (19% vs 10%).
  • 63% of Business School Leaders perceive innovating program delivery a top issue facing Business Schools in the next 5 years.
  • Only 14% of MBA graduates believe Business Schools are using technology well to deliver teaching and learning.
  • 48% of MBA graduates expect to change sectors in the next three years.
  • Female participation is up, from 32% in 2016 to 38% in 2017, but there is more to be done. There is increasing use of online and blended learning in line with increasing participation of women in MBA’s, and 42% of school leaders said more provisions for women with young families to study was a key innovation in the past year.

Business Schools understand the importance of innovation and developing/adopting new technologies to keep pace with social, economic and ethical expectations of students and businesses - enabling them to stay relevant and competitive.

MBA graduates, meanwhile, expect innovative programs that are flexible for their needs and to help prepare for a future of uncertainty. They are increasingly mobile and are seeking new challenges in different sectors - with increasing numbers of graduates working outside of the consultancy sector, and in sectors such as Not-for-Profit.

A key challenge discussed was how to adapt learning content to this. Faculty and methodologies that have proven successful in attracting students in the past may not now be enough as society demands a more flexible, cost-effective and dynamic model of study.

When the roundtable were asked what key barriers existed to increasing technology in the classroom, issues that arose included:

  • The scalability of learning to the wider learning environment.
  • Faculty training and faculty support for new technologies.
  • Perception of online learning as a cost-cutting exercise, not an innovative and flexible delivery method. There is a prevailing conceptual history of the online learning hype of five years ago.

Maarten Van der Bierst - Vlerick Business School

“If you are duplicating face-to-face teaching and try to just mimic it online, it won’t work. Rethinking is required to benefit from the online space you have. Build from the bottom up, take the benefits of each learning delivery method, and students will get to share a lot more in the benefits hence bend the dull connotation online learning unfairly still has today.”

In a room packed with digital transformation project leaders, the discussions then turned to what Business Schools have found worked well. Tips from Tansy Rothwell, who runs the Innovation Team at London Business School, included many change management examples - identifying your cautious faculty, for example those resistant to change, and working with them to show others online learning can be simple and beneficial. Tansy Rothwell sought out specific lecturers and courses, working with the lecturers to develop small changes to their courses and illustrating the power of her instructional design team. This approach was echoed by others in the roundtable - try innovative approaches on a small scale before taking it to the wider environment. And record success stories, share them, and communicate with them.

As we continue to gain more insights into the challenges and opportunities that Business School leaders are facing, in partnership with AMBA and BGA, we will be launching a Technology and Innovation in Business Schools report. The report will be available in January 2020. Do reach out if you’d like to receive a copy as soon as it’s published (email: