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Saturday, 21 May 2016

New Platform Aims To Revolutionize Executive Education

MOOCs, as with most other technologies, have stuck quite firmly to the notorious hype cycle that originally saw them destined to change education in profound ways.

Indeed, back in 2014, it was believed that the MOOC would not only disrupt higher education, but also executive education, with none other than the World Economic Forum backing MBA ala MOOC.


Alas, that revolution hasn’t really happened, with drop-out rates remaining very high, and student enrollment remaining largely the preserve of people that already have a good education.

A New Approach
As is common with the hype cycle, once the initial bluster dies down, organizations tend to tinker at the fringes and produce something better and more robust. This may be happening with the SPOCs that are being developed by the EMERITUS Institute of Management.

SPOC, which stands for Small, Private, Online Courses, are online courses that provide the “byte-size” nature of a MOOC but much better peer-to-peer learning that is more commonplace with a classroom-based course.

EMERITUS have teamed up with academics from the business schools at MIT Sloan, Columbia and Tuck to offer a range of classes on management and leadership. Whereas a typical MOOC might have many thousands of students, a course from EMERITUS will have maybe one to 200. These will then be further divided into small learning circles that will allow students to both put their learnings into practice and share expertise from around the world.

The courses typically require three to four hours per week, so in that sense are similar to MOOCs, but roughly 75% of this time is devoted to the application of ones learning, so there is a real attempt to ensure what is learned is absorbed. The hope is that this will ensure that completion rates are considerably higher than on MOOCs.

Technical Innovation
The platform offers a number of innovative technical approaches to help students get the most from their course. For instance, they use gamification to provide students with a simulated environment where they can test out what they learn.
There is also something called the Meeting Mediator, which is a smart technology that measures the speech and general energy levels in virtual groups to try and gauge their effectiveness.

It’s an area where the university partners are bringing a lot to the table, withMIT in particular having done a considerable amount of research into how online learning can be made more effective.

Executive Education
It’s also interesting to note that the platform is making a distinct charge into the executive education market that business schools have cornered so well. It’s an area that has seen some movement by MOOCs, without really much success.
For instance, back in 2014, the World Economic Forum launched Forum Academy in an attempt to change executive education for the better. They wanted to provide executives with the chance to learn from the best minds in their field, at a time and location of their choosing.

It’s not entirely clear that the project has been successful, and it’s something that EMERITUS hopes to surpass. They hope to do this by focusing specifically on the corporate market, with thousands of leaders from a particular company enrolled at any one time.

A nice example of the potential is provided by GE. Their Crotonville leadership program is widely touted as one of the finest facilities in the world, yet a relatively small proportion of the 170,000 GE managers can access it due to physical constraints as much as anything. So being able to use an agile, online platform such as EMERITUS could allow big companies to significantly scale up their leadership training.

“EMERITUS opens the doors for tens of thousands of working professionals who cannot enroll in full-time business programs. In international business, with employees working in various locations throughout the world, standardizing executive training is essential to effective global leadership, and doing so without pulling key leaders from the office is imperative. EMERITUS makes continuous, on-the-job improvement in management and innovation a reality, and we anticipate that this unique approach to executive education will have a profound impact on the global economy,” founder Ashwin Damera told me recently.

Suffice to say, there have been various attempts to significantly change education over the past few years, and we still learn in much the same way as we always have. It’s an area that is long overdue for change however, and hopefully EMERITUS will go some way towards driving that change.

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