The world is changing rapidly, and with it, graduate business education. In practical terms, this has meant the adoption of a range of new technologies that have transformed classrooms and the methods used by those who lead them.
In a new global survey of deans, professors and IT leaders from business schools in Europe, Asia and the United States, the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Business Schools found a strong desire among high school professors for more support. and training — and an even stronger fear that a lack of knowledge about digital transformation will make their role more difficult.
That fear is echoed in an AACSB International report detailing high school faculty’s concerns that such a heavy emphasis on digital learning means less human interaction and connection with students, making it difficult—in the words of one faculty respondent—“to find a soft spot , which increases student engagement and faculty readiness.” However, many professors also recognize that by adapting more technology options, their students will be better prepared for their careers in the business world.
‘THE FACULTY IS MOST CONCERNED ABOUT THE INCLUSION OF AI IN THE CURRICULUM’
AACSB International report, Embracing the Digital Shift: Perspectives on Digital Transformation in Business Schools, sponsored by the Stevens Institute of Technology School of Business in New Jersey, surveyed deans at 163 institutions in 43 states and 198 B-school faculty and 59 B-school IT leaders at dozens of schools. The report confirms that digital transformation is a priority for business schools, with 71% of professors saying it is a key area of their school’s strategy.
But while deans and professors realize the importance of embracing technology and innovation, they have concerns.
“Digital transformation provides a variety of added value for school stakeholders, especially students and faculty members,” responded one dean. “However, it must have the values of collaboration and interactivity between these stakeholders to achieve the school’s goals.”
A faculty respondent wrote: “Faculty’s biggest concern is integrating artificial intelligence into the curriculum: are we fighting it or trying to integrate it into student learning? How do we prevent students from using artificial intelligence to complete assignments and tests? How exactly do we determine whether students understand the content of the class?”
An IT respondent summarized: “Digital transformation can automate administrative processes, monitor study progress and overcome barriers to attendance. Digitization can thus contribute to higher quality, efficiency and satisfaction of studies. However, it does not compete with human interaction, and our digitization efforts are not intended to replace face-to-face contact. Nevertheless, it seems that there are these fears that we have to confront.”
70% IN EMEA ARE AFRAID THEY LACK TIME FOR PROPER TRAINING
Most of the surveyed professors believe that their role and expectations are changing significantly due to digital transformation. The report details the increased hiring of IT leaders by business schools, which aims to focus more on helping faculty stay abreast of such massive digital transformation.
Other findings in the report include that 70% of professors in the EMEA region fear they do not have enough time to devote to digital training, and 55% believe their skills are insufficient.
However, the report also notes that professors believe that digital transformation creates value for stakeholders. They believe that by moving some subjects online, they can spend more time face-to-face for meaningful discussion.
5 FINDINGS FROM THE AACSB REPORT
1. Growing strategic importance is paramount
“Business school leaders anticipate greater strategic focus on digital transformation efforts over the next two years, including hiring digitally savvy faculty, increasing hybrid degree programs, and increasing matching budgets. Deans may perceive greater stakeholder alignment in these efforts than their faculty and IT colleagues.”
2. Students are at the heart of opportunities for digital transformation
“Respondents are most optimistic about the ability of digital transformation to improve the student experience and equip professors with the tools to improve their teaching. Envisioned uses include creating more flexible learning delivery options, leveraging data-driven technologies to help students achieve better results, and exposing students to the demands of the digital environment early.”
3. Major challenges include increased costs, new competition, and unbalanced resources and expertise
“While all viewers see financial investment in digital transformation as the biggest challenge, deans are also concerned about increased competition from better-resourced schools and other learning providers. Faculty and IT leaders see inadequate and uneven digital skills among faculty and staff as a challenge. Many respondents are also hesitant about the potential negative impact of reduced human interaction.”
4. Faculty seek increased support as they navigate their new expectations
“Deans and professors recognize that the role of the faculty is changing as business education becomes more digital – in teaching, research and professional development. Both groups agree that schools can do more to encourage faculty to use digital technologies. Faculty may be more inclined to embrace online instruction and use of digital tools with the right training, resources, time and cultural support.”
5. More powerful technologies in the classroom can help engage students
“With online or hybrid delivery, faculty face barriers to keeping students engaged, making meaningful connections, and monitoring academic dishonesty, especially with new platforms like ChatGPT and a lack of clear navigation standards
their use in today’s educational environment. Most faculty use traditional tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and learning management systems in their classrooms, but fewer have begun to embrace data analytics and artificial intelligence tools that could improve collaboration once faculty learn to use them effectively.”
Read the full AACSB International report, Embracing the Digital Shift: Perspectives on Digital Transformation in Business Schools, here.
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