It was clear to me after spending 3 years on their award-winning MBA, why Warwick Business School has recently achieved their No 1 business school ranking.
Any education institution can achieve the ‘content’ requirements but this focused on the holistic learning experience. The school created an engaging ‘learning ecosystem’ delivered predominantly, but not exclusively online. Below are my key insights for anyone looking to improve an on-line learning offer.
1. Retain face to face elements.
Although this MBA was online, with global participants, face to face components were still compulsory. The elements that had to be completed on campus simply did not translate to online. They relied on personal interaction, observation, nuances and subtleties which are impossible to replicate in the virtual world.
Impact for corporate training: Don’t assume everything can be delivered online. If the content relies on skill development, requires practise or is abstract, then face to face is most likely your best answer.
2. Have engaging presenters/teachers
University lecturers are not selected for their screen presence or ability to entertain an audience, however the modules I actively engaged with, were the ones where the lecturers were engaging personalities. They didn’t just talk through the slides; they shared stories and anecdotes, and provoked interesting discussions. They didn’t shy away from interaction online and created an experience which felt more akin to listening to a radio show or a podcast than a lecture.
Impact for corporate training: Presenting anywhere is a skill, but the skill of presenting effectively online is massively underestimated. It’s incredibly easy to switch off during online learning so make sure the person fronting up the material is engaging.
3. Make the content relevant
One module I thoroughly enjoyed was ‘Economics of the Business Environment’. This would not normally be a subject I would be excited about, but I happened to be studying this module at the time of the EU referendum in the UK. Suddenly, the theoretical concepts were being brought to life and reported on daily in the news media.Very helpful!
Impact for corporate training: Don’t keep material in the theoretical. Make it timely and realistic. Encourage interaction with news articles, link content to current affairs and contemporary examples.
4. Create a peer-to-peer network
During my first year I spent a lot of time working with my ‘group’ online. We were all keen, but occasionally overwhelmed by the volume and complexity of the material.
After the first year, our group gradually stopped our weekly calls. My results in the second year reflected the fact that I had lost this critical element of my learning.That group brought the material to life. It helped me talk through ideas and linkages. It solved problems I couldn’t figure out on my own and it highlighted gaps in my knowledge that I had to revisit. That network was the difference between me mechanically working through the material versus truly understanding and applying my learning.
Impact for corporate training: Creating a learning network is critical and often completely omitted. Combine learning material and networking to both strengthen the learning process and build working relationships that go well beyond the duration of the training course?
Interested in building a learning network in your organisation?
5. Don’t stick to the obvious.
One thing I loved about the MBA programme was the range of subjects I could choose. Leadership and the Art of Judgement was one of my favourites; using Shakespeare to examine modern leadership and the concept of ‘Practical Wisdom’. I was also obsessed by the module ‘Economics of Wellbeing’ – the business case behind being happy. Subjects like that gave me a rounded view of the business world and reignited my love of learning for the sake of it, not just because I had to pass a course.
Impact for corporate training: Reward your people with subjects and content that will ignite their passion and draw them into the learning process.
I am pleased and proud of my MBA status, but more than anything, I have a desire to keep learning and to apply that learning in our business. Wouldn’t it be great if learning within corporate settings achieved a similar result?
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