Attending the MBA Conference hosted by the EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development) in Paris this week, delegates from more than 40 schools are discussing many issues of relevance to our MBA programs:
- what is the balance between academic rigor and practical relevance of content?
- what is the balance between content and other services MBA programs should provide?
- what’s hot and what’s not?
- what are the marketing, admissions, program management and career placement trends around the world?
- what are the challenges faced by MBA programs and how are they dealing with them?
Clearly, we could discuss the first two questions ’til the cows come home. They are age-old questions that need to be re-visited time and time again. Every school does this in quarterly workshops, annual curriculum reviews, and are often the topic of our weekly team coffees. Of course it is always interesting to hear the development stories of other schools and reflect how we can learn from their experiences. The trend information will be put on our website next week as much of this is good data.
My main learning this week, however, is this: the way our future MBA students learn is changing radically and at a rate that I previously had not known. As Gen-Y reaches the age of attending business school, indeed our MBA programs, within the next several years, they bring with them expectations about learning for which many business schools are not prepared.
Gen-Y, the Millennials, is learning more and more via social networking, and not through traditional teaching – even though many educators think they are using modern teaching techniques. I don’t mean just reading material on-line or via iPads, but real, deep interaction with each other in solving real classroom problems, dialoging about assignment content, sharing resource links, and so forth. And yet the vast majority of this learning is peer-to-peer outside of the classroom, for the simple fact that the majority of their lecturers did not land in the crib with a smart phone like many of this generation did.
Obviously, one of the most daunting challenges will be for business schools to re-educate the teaching faculty to use social networking in – and outside – of the classroom. So how would this type of teaching and learning look like? Surely, this is a lot easier for some topical areas or functions such as organizational behavior or corporate communications than, say, for finance, statistics or economics.
And even if we find adequate teaching methods for such topics, how can schools get their faculty up to speed to handle the knowledge gap between educators and program participants regarding these tools?
What can we do to change the mentality of some great educators who have been very successful using traditional teaching methods, knowing very well that they may not be as successful with the next generation of students?
As we are currently conducting a thorough curriculum review of the MBA program in St. Gallen, we will begin to address these important questions. The implications of Gen-Y for learning and teaching is fascinating.
What do you think about this opportunity? (I especially would like to hear from “Gen-Y”!)
PS: there are various definitions of Gen-Y. I tend to focus on those born between 1982 – 1995.