Latest in Edtech Predicted to Revolutionize the Online MBA

The influence of EdTech on the online MBA classroom

Distance learning has been on the rise for 13 consecutive years, according to an online learning study conducted by the Babson Survey Research Group. Meeting the rise in demand is an increasingly large supply of online courses at every level, many of which embrace the latest in educational software. Long gone are the days of correspondence courses, where eagerly anticipated class materials were delivered with a clink through the letterbox. Today, the lecture theater is brought to you via your laptop, tablet, webcam or virtual reality headset – interactivity becoming ever more real, and simultaneously surreal.

The online education market is a competitive domain, and more top business schools are seeing the extended reach their programs can have as ever greater advances in technology are made. According to the QS Applicant Survey 2015, one in five candidates were interested in doing an online MBA, and predictions based on past growth are that these numbers are only set to go up.

Here are just a few examples of the innovative measures top business schools are implementing as they strive to improve the online MBA program experience and bring ever better versions of it to ever larger audiences. 

IE Business School wows in its online MBA delivery

Universities and business schools that do not innovate by adopting educational technology (edtech) are at risk of falling behind, and, as James Henderson, head of innovation at Switzerland’s IMD, puts it; being, “supplanted by new players.” 

There are varying degrees to which top business schools are embracing edtech. Many online MBA programs will, for example, use software platforms where students can access their course materials, participate in discussion threads, watch conferences live, or skip to pre-recorded lectures. Feedback and grades are also disseminated online, but even these once-cool features are aging somewhat.

Take a look at IE Business School, ranked 1st in the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2017. Late last year, they launched their WOW Room (Window on the World). It looks like a news studio, with the professor as your presenter and facilitator. The professor doesn't even have to be physically present - she can appear as a hologram which is moved around the room by a robot. Live feeds depicting the faces of online MBA students span the walls. IE Business School’s WOW Room can simulate real situations and students, with the timer set, are invited to engage as they are charged with finding solutions to the business crises set before them. Students can poll their answers, speak live, or text chat. Meanwhile, the software can keep tabs on students' feelings and reactions with emotion recognition systems. This is the newest level in online MBA teaching and takes it cue from a similar initiative launched in 2015 by Harvard Business School’s online education arm.


Warwick Business School (WBS), ranked 2nd in the QS Distance Online MBA Rankings 2017 isanother leader in online MBA provision with around 2,000 candidates enrolled in its programs, the large majority of whom are logging in remotely. Like IE Business School, WBS also uses business simulation software, as well as film, drama and roleplaying elements. WBS has also built two on-campus film studios to expand on its provision of online education.

The future of online education

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX has spoken in detail about the trajectory advanced technology is on. Video games, spurred by virtual and augmented reality are blurring the line between what's real and what's not. He even went so far as to say that we might all currently be living in a giant computer simulation.

Simulation or not, what is certain is that technologies are advancing at breakneck speed and they are, quite naturally, infiltrating the MBA classroom and transforming course delivery. Some predictions hold that fewer MBA candidates will choose a full-time on-campus MBA, while others argue instead that the online mode of delivery simply extends the reach of an MBA education and makes it more accessible to a greater segment of global society.


Top business schools removing stigma

Either way, top business schools will continue to invest in online MBA programs, as well as in other forms of postgraduate business education and executive education. The greater the level of involvement from leading institutions in the online education market, the less likely we are to see the stigma that was once attached to the online format when compared to its on-campus equivalents.

Karen Turtle
Written by Karen Turtle

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​

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