Business education in Covid-19 times: distance learning from necessity to opportunity
Business schools train 4.0 managers
University training, and education in general, underwent a significant transformation during the COVID-19 health crisis, so much so that a profound reshaping of teaching was necessary, converting classroom training into online training. The resulting scenario has generated a new normality where the relational dimension between professors and students has been borrowed from IT evolution, giving a strong impetus to the digitisation of learning.
The Distance Learning
From this point of view, therefore, distance learning should not be regarded as a negative legacy of the emergency situation but rather as an opportunity, a chance, which has made teaching more flexible, enabling the overcoming of space-time, methodological and technological obstacles, while keeping intercultural experiences intact.
If, on the one hand, it has been an instrument through which various changes have been experimented, on the other, in the immediate future, its effects will have to be explored in order to definitively unhinge pre-established paradigms and to develop an increasingly complete and varied offer.
We discussed this topic with Antonio Scialletti, Program Director of the International MBA of the Rome Business School, to reflect on the different areas of digital-learning, seen not as an indication and reflection of a given reality but as a product in itself:
“In the last 2 years, the world of distance learning has grown and developed significantly, and new technologies have been the best allies in this transformation. At the Rome Business School, despite the obligation to work and train remotely in the most emergency period of the Covid-19 pandemic, it did not stop: the pandemic found us prepared, because our teachings already had a blended approach. It is not only that digital offers the opportunity to “arrive” and share knowledge all over the world: without digital learning it would be impossible to have this wealth of cultures, professional experiences and backgrounds that can enhance everyone, students and teachers alike.”
In the “new order”, students are becoming increasingly “demanding” because the need for professional skills to meet new challenges has increased. In this scenario, Business Schools can play a key role because they are able to train and interconnect students with professionals and managers right from the start.
Classrooms, whether physical or multimedia, in which analytical, operational and strategic skills are acquired, become gyms, places for measuring oneself against the world of business.
Industry 4.0, between digitisation and globalisation, explicitly requires teamwork, cross-culturalism, problem solving, adaptability, an open mind and leadership skills. Business School programmes are a fundamental asset in this respect, increasing knowledge, developing soft skills, preparing and introducing people to the world of work by creating that precious intersection between the worlds of education and business.
“Business Schools are towers of business knowledge,” says Scialletti, “they are environments in which at any time, not just during lessons, students are offered opportunities for continuous learning, for a continuous exchange of information.”
The real advantage is the pragmatic preparation, the extremely concrete approach to train future business leaders with the vision of general management. The Business Schools have a structure and organisation that are not comparable, which allows the members to build up skills that in the world of work represent a plus to accelerate their career path.
The importance of Certification
The pandemic was therefore an accelerator of a long overdue change – in lifestyles and even more so in study – and it is reasonable to assume that distance learning will continue in the years to come.
Currently, the offer of online courses in Italy is very rich. Alongside universities and business schools, many professionals and lecturers have accepted the challenge of offering their expertise and teaching online outside institutes, business schools and universities. This produces for students the undeniable disadvantage of not being placed in a system that can create and increase student engagement and experience the challanges of complex systems with direct interaction with companies.
Without this connection, students are unlikely to make the transition from disciplinary-based to problemsolving.
It is therefore important, when choosing a training course, to rely on those institutions that can guarantee courses with the highest teaching standards, which have received recognition and accreditation from national and international bodies, which assess the adequacy of the courses offered and guarantee their excellence.
“Rome Business Schools have the ability to transfer the necessary know-how to students, to initiate them into a career path that can be tiring and difficult but can lead to success thanks to a solid education. In such an uncertain economic moment, we need to guide the younger generations in making quality choices that can change their professional and personal lives.”
As we await a post-pandemic equilibrium by translating the VUCA environment, an acronym that stands for “volatility”, “uncertainty”, “complexity” and “ambiguity” from production systems to the world of education, we can certainly say that a high level of corporate training can transform volatility into vision, uncertainty into understanding, complexity into clarity and ambiguity into agility.
More than 25 years of strategy consulting projects, living and working in USA (Boston and Seattle) for 4 years, 8 years in Milano-Italy in Deloitte, and 8 years in Shanghai-China where I was CEO of GEA Consulenti di Direzione SpA Asian subsidiary. Strategy and business development senior advisor for internationalization projects. I am presently Strategy Director & Project Leader for LIFE Project at SBS Group Varese-Italy, and MBA Program Director & Strategy Professor at Rome Business School. I graduated with MBA from Boston University-USA, and I got a Laurea in Electrical Engineering at University of Rome Tor Vergata-Italy.