Exclusive AMBA & BGA research examines how Business Schools are adapting to a new era of education technology

Business Schools are looking forward to a new era of education technology, having made a success of online learning provision in 2020, new research from AMBA & BGA in association with Barco, reveals

Business School leaders have shown their Schools to have been both pragmatic and agile in the face of 2020’s disruption, according to the AMBA & BGA Education Technology Research, in association with Barco.

The 216 decision makers at international Business Schools who completed AMBA & BGA’s research demonstrated that while, initially, they have all been reactive to the need for to adopt tech rapidly in the face of social distancing; they also ascertained challenges quickly and moved to address them with innovative strategies and problem solving moving forward.

Key findings

Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

  • 91% of Business School leaders have been involved in more digital or online learning opportunities since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic; 85% conducted lectures using virtual teaching technology; 61% offered flexible timings for delivering programmes; and 59% increased the capacity of teaching related to emerging technology and innovation in 2020.
  • 96% of Business School leaders said their School had increased its use of online delivery methods for programmes because of Covid-19; 71% of Business School leaders said their institution used online delivery methods pre-pandemic.
  • 84% of courses were taught in classrooms, pre-Covid-19, and this dropped to just 24% in 2020, while online delivery shot up from 8%, pre-Covid-19, to 68% during the pandemic.
  • 98% of Business School leaders believe their School was either very successful or fairly successful in taking programmes online due to Covid-19. 

Investment in digital teaching and learning

  • 74% of respondents say their Business Schools are investing a moderate amount or more into online teaching for MBA programmes. The MBA is currently receiving the most funding in comparison to other programmes, for digital learning among the Business Schools represented by respondents.
  • 88% of Business School leaders believe the effectiveness of digital teaching on the MBA programmes at their Schools to have been either ‘very effective’, or ‘somewhat effective’.
  • The most commonly cited teaching method being used at Business Schools is live videoconferencing systems from PC, which 89% of participants say is being used at their institutions. Other teaching methods used included; elearning / MOOCs (34%); live virtual classrooms from studios (33%); and live online virtual classroom software PCs (26%). However, 80% also say that their School has still been able to offer some classroom-based learning over the past year.

Perceptions of the success of digital technology on business education

  • 52% of Business School leaders believe that online teaching methods are ‘the same as’, ‘somewhat better’, or ‘much better’ than traditional classroom teaching.
  • 48% admitted online teaching methods were ‘somewhat worse’ than a traditional classroom experience.
  • 76% of participants believe less travel for students was the biggest advantage of online teaching; 71% value the fact that they could record sessions; 71% value the reduction in travel time for staff enabled by online teaching; and 70% think the biggest advantage is international collaboration.
  • The major challenges faced by Business School leaders when delivering online education include connection issues from students (cited by 85% of respondents); lack of student engagement (73%); changing the design of programmes to make them suitable for students (61%); and connection issues from educators (55%).
  • 73% of Business School leaders believe the biggest problem with online teaching is transforming courses to fit an online format. Other problems frequently cited by survey participants include gaining feedback from students on their understanding (cited by 52% of respondents).
  • 45% believe that technology is ineffective at delivering networking opportunities; 39% think online technology is ineffective when it comes to soft skills development; and 37% believe technology had not been effective at delivering wellbeing initiatives for students in their institutions.
  • 87% think online technology was either ‘somewhat effective’ or ‘very effective’ in delivering flexibility in learning; and more than two thirds (67%) rated the effectiveness of online technology in supporting team projects and collaboration.

Looking ahead

  • 82% of Business Schools are planning to invest further in technology over the coming two years to enable online teaching; while 18% are not sure or are considering it. No survey participant said they were not intending to invest in online teaching methods.
  • Business School leaders predict that blended and hybrid models will replace the traditional classroom-based delivery of courses in the next five years. Using the MBA programme as an example, 21% of leaders think MBA programmes will be taught in a traditional classroom format in five years, while 38% believe blended delivery will be the most prevalent form of teaching; and 38% predict a hybrid approach.
  • Digitalisation is deemed to be the most important concept in the running of a Business School over the next 10 years, with almost two thirds of leaders (63%) believing it to be very important.
  • 83% of leaders think it is either ‘very likely’ or ‘fairly likely’ that the fundamentals of the MBA will change in the next 10 years, compared with 77% who were of this opinion in late 2019.

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