Hesitant to Return to the Classroom? It’s Nothing Like You’d Expect

The learning process is now more participative and experiential. | Imagen: iStock

Considering returning to the classroom but dreading sitting behind a desk? Juggling professional and personal schedules that already seem overloaded? Anxious for practical solutions to your real workplace problems rather than theoretical knowledge?

You’ve got nothing to fear. In IESE’s Executive Education programs, the learning process is participative and experiential rather than passive. New online options allow you not only greater flexibility in scheduling but also greater depth of knowledge. And all formats are geared toward giving you the new capabilities you need to solve the most pressing issues you face at work — today and tomorrow.

Learning isn’t anything like it used to be. Continuous innovation in learning content, format and context is just one of the features that has kept IESE at number one in the world for Executive Education in the Financial Times’ ranking for the last four years.

Finding time and impact, with help from technology

Surveys show that almost everyone feels like they need more training and professional development to continue advancing, but where to find the time? And how to ensure the program you choose delivers the most impact?

At IESE, there’s no substitute for the enriching, face-to-face discussions that take place in the classroom with professors as well as among participants. The case method, built around teamwork and discussions of real-life business challenges, has been a hallmark of IESE since it was founded six decades ago.

But that’s only part of the story. Focused programs, industry meetings and custom programs pack intense learning into shorter formats. And many longer format courses, such as the Driving Leadership Potential (DLP) in New York and the new Program for Management Development (PMD) in Barcelona, are combining residential modules with online content — giving participants the best of both worlds. “The combination of academic methodologies, online and on-campus learning is one of the clear strengths of the DLP,” said Katherine DuBois (DLP ’18), vice-president of Business Strategy at Tommy Hilfiger (PVH), in New York.

“The program content piqued my interest right away and the flexible learning format sealed the deal. We’re all really busy at this stage in our careers, but the combination of self-paced remote learning alternating with the on-campus sessions was totally manageable,” said Candace Renfrow (DLP ’18), head of Global Key Talent Programs at Merck in Pennsylvania. The DLP combines six online modules with six on-campus modules.

And even the case study method is being updated to fit the new environment. Before in-class discussions, participants have access to a whole multimedia world, enriching the case with links to relevant news and analysis, and integrated questionnaires to improve assimilation of the key data. To aid understanding, reflection away from the classroom is extended by asynchronous debates and collaboration in online platforms. Videoconferences and project management tools are also used to facilitate task follow-up and enrich the virtual interactions.

Learning a new way of learning

The case method is just one way participants approach real-world issues. In strategic projects, participants and teams work alongside participating companies to present effective, actionable solutions to a challenge the company has identified. Similarly, the executive challenge is a team-based methodology that enables participants to address a specific strategic, operational, leadership or career challenge by leveraging their peers’ knowledge, experience and network.

Many of the in-person modules incorporate activities that are far removed from sitting at a desk, taking notes. In just one example of experiential learning, participants visit the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona and consider the leadership qualities of architect Antonio Gaudí, receiving multi-dimensional lessons on leadership, innovation and management development.

Ultimate goal: Impact

The aspiration is continuous, student-centered learning. Professional development becomes a permanent journey, integrated into managers’ daily activities and guided by a personalized knowledge.

Furthering that personal approach is Executive Coaching, which forms part of many IESE programs, and allows the participant and coach to work together to increase self-awareness, elevate performance and achieve explicit goals through a change in behavior.

The omni-learning approach incorporates but also transcends technology. It may well be that some of the methodologies can make the training more accessible and convenient, but that’s not IESE’s principal reason for implementing them. “We aim to increase the impact,” says Giuseppe Auricchio, director of IESE’s Learning Innovation Unit.

In recent years, IESE has also become an authoritative voice in the debate about the future of learning. As well as incorporating new methodologies into its programs, the school contributes research and articles to the global conversation on education, and invites leading experts and agents of change to discuss key education-related issues, through its Expert Series and other formats.

There’s no better way of learning than feeling that you are an active part of the process. As Confucius said: “I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.”

» REFERENCES

A way to learn website

The MOSAIC model of IESE methodologies, contexts and formats

How Digitalization Is Changing the Way Executives Learn, by Giuseppe Auricchio and Evgeny Káganer in IESE Insight, issue 26, third quarter 2015

This post is also available in: Spanish

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