The world is rapidly changing, and with it, graduate business education. Practically, that has meant the embrace of a range of new technologies that have transformed classrooms and the methods used by those leading them.
In a new global poll of deans, faculty, and IT leaders from business schools in Europe, Asia, and the United States, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business found a strong desire on the part of B-school faculty to receive more support and training — and an even stronger fear that a lack of knowledge about digital transformation will make their role harder.
That fear runs through AACSB International’s report, which details B-school faculty concerns that placing such heavy focus on digital learning means less human interaction and connection with students, and makes it challenging to — in the words of one faculty respondent — “find the soft spot that maximizes student engagement and faculty preparedness.” However, many faculty also acknowledge that by adapting more technology options, their students will be more prepared for their career in the world of business.
‘FACULTY IS MOST WORRIED ABOUT THE INCORPORATION OF AI INTO THE CURRICULUM’
AACSB International’s 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 countries as well as 198 B-school faculty and 59 B-school IT leaders across dozens of schools. The report confirms that digital transformation is a priority for business schools, with 71% of faculty claiming it to be a key focus area for their school’s strategy.
But while deans and faculty are aware of how important the embrace of tech and innovation are, they have concerns.
“Digital transformation provides various additional values for the school’s stakeholders, especially students and faculty members,” one dean responded. “However, it needs to have collaborative and interactive values among these stakeholders to achieve school objectives.”
A faculty respondent wrote: “Faculty is most worried about the incorporation of AI into the curriculum: Do we fight against it or try to incorporate it into student learning? How do we stop students from using AI in completing assignments and tests? How do we accurately determine if students are understanding class content?”
And an IT respondent summarized: “Digital transformation can automate administrative processes, monitor study progress, and overcome barriers to attendance. Digitalization can thus contribute to greater study quality, efficiency, and satisfaction. However, it does not compete with human interaction, and the goal of our digitization efforts is not to replace personal contact. Nevertheless, there seem to be these fears, which we need to counteract.”
70% IN EMEA REGION FEAR THEY LACK TIME FOR ADEQUATE TRAINING
Most surveyed faculty members believe their role and expectations are significantly changing because of digital transformation. The report details an increased recruitment drive for IT leaders by business schools, which aims to place more focus on helping faculty to be kept up to speed with so much digital transformation.
Other findings in the report include that 70% of faculty in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region fear they don’t have adequate time to dedicate to digital training, and 55% feel that their knowledge is inadequate.
However, the report also found that faculty believe that digital transformation creates stakeholder value. They believe that by shifting some coursework to online, they can spend more face-to-face time on meaningful discussion.
5 TAKEAWAYS FROM AACSB’S REPORT
1. Growing Strategic Importance Is Top of Mind
“Business school leaders anticipate an increased strategic focus on digital transformation efforts over the next two years, including recruiting digitally adept faculty, increasing hybrid degree programs, and increasing relevant budget allocation. Deans may perceive greater stakeholder alignment across these efforts than their faculty and IT counterparts.”
2. Learners Are at the Heart of Digital Transformation Opportunity
“Respondents are most optimistic about digital transformation’s ability to improve learner experiences and equip faculty with tools to enhance their teaching. Anticipated uses include creating more flexible learning delivery options, leveraging data-enabled technologies to help learners achieve better outcomes, and exposing students early to the demands of the digital landscape.”
3. Top Challenges Include Increased Costs, New Competition, and Imbalanced Resources and Expertise
“While all audiences perceive the financial investment in digital transformation as the top challenge, deans also are concerned about increased competition from better- resourced schools and other learning providers. Faculty and IT leaders view inadequate and uneven digital skills among faculty and staff as a challenge. Many respondents are also hesitant about the potentially negative impact of reduced human interaction.”
4. Faculty Seek Greater Support as They Navigate Their New Expectations
“Deans and faculty acknowledge that the role of faculty is changing as business education becomes more digital—in teaching, research, and professional development. Both groups agree that schools can do more to incentivize faculty to use digital technologies. Faculty may be more inclined to embrace online teaching and the use of digital tools with the right training, resources, time, and cultural support in place.”
5. More Powerful Classroom Technologies Can Help With Learner Engagement
“With online or hybrid delivery, faculty face obstacles in keeping students engaged, creating meaningful connections, and monitoring academic dishonesty, especially with new platforms like ChatGPT and a lack of clear standards for navigating
their use in today’s educational environment. Most faculty use mainstream tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and learning management systems in their classrooms, while fewer have begun to adopt data analytics and AI tools, which could improve engagement once faculty learn to use them effectively.”
Read AACSB International’s complete report, Embracing the Digital Shift: Perspectives on Digital Transformation in Business Schools, here.
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