Published on February 14th, 2020 | by Sunit Nandi0
How Technology Transforms Business Education and the Learner’s Experience
It may come as no surprise that technology is playing a bigger and bigger role in the classroom. Some argue it’s an incredible tool for learning and others say it can be a hindrance. One thing’s for sure though — it’s ubiquitous. Consider some of these stats on technology in higher education:
- 91% of students communicate with faculty via email
- 70% have eschewed traditional note-taking and use a laptop
- 91% of college professors use social media in their teaching (66% use it in class)
- 75% of students prefer tablets to textbooks
- 78% can’t study without some sort of digital device
As of 2017, 3.1 million students were enrolled exclusively in online courses, which represents nearly 16% of the student population in the U.S. Another 3.5 million (17%) were enrolled in at least some online courses. A whopping one-third of all students take at least one online course.
How has all of this technology transformed the learner’s experience in business education? Let’s take a look.
Technology Has Made Education More Accessible
Technology has democratized the process of getting a business degree to a great extent. In the old days, you’d either have to live within commuting distance of a business school or completely relocate to attend one. With that relocation comes a total change in lifestyle and a range of costs including rent, gas and other living expenses. For many, those costs were prohibitive.
With the rise of the online classroom, students from across the globe and benefit from a business education regardless of where they live and, to a lesser degree, how much money they have (let’s face it — b-schools are still pricey). Now, with a decent laptop and a reliable internet connection, you can equip yourself with the keys to a better life.
Technology Has Made Education More Flexible
Not only does technology open up education to students from anywhere, but it also lets them do it at their pace. While not every business school offers it, many have asynchronous eLearning portals that allow students to log in to access lectures, download class materials and get assignments. They can then absorb these materials and work on any assignments at their own pace, whenever it’s most convenient for them.
This is nothing short of a paradigm shift. Now working professionals looking to upgrade their business management careers with, say, an MBA, can do it on their own terms, which might be in the early hours of the morning or the small hours of the night.
What about single, working moms? In the past, the thought of adding a business degree to the burden of a full-time job and raising a child would have been unreachable. With asynchronous learning, it’s doable, giving working parents a shot at a higher-paying career path.
Technology Has Made Learning More Adaptable
Studies over the last decades have revealed how diverse our learning styles are. With the traditional model of classroom learning, professors closed the door and instructed students, who sat there passively and were expected to absorb the information in the same way and at the same pace. That’s a teacher-centered model.
Technology has transformed the “classroom” to a more student-centered model, one that puts the tools to learn in the hands of the student. With the help of mobile devices, laptops, tablets and interactive learning mechanisms, teachers become facilitators and students take a more active role in their progress. Learning doesn’t just happen when the door is closed; it happens all day and in all sorts of settings.
It also shifts learning to meet the student where they live. Rather than rote memorization, long speeches and laborious note-taking, students have a chance to contextualize the learning and apply it to their goals as a learner. Learning becomes more personalized and most research shows that information is easier to absorb (and stays with us longer) when this is the case.
Technology in the Classroom and Business World Are Linked
Some may argue that students who utilize too much technology in their business education are missing out on the human aspect of the industry, the one where handshakes and soft skills still rule the day. And they’d be right, to a degree.
But there’s an interesting parallel between the ways technology has impacted education and the ways it’s impacted business. Business used to be conducted behind closed doors, too. Technology has blown the proverbial doors off of that. Offices are now wherever there’s a signal, a mobile device, a tablet or a laptop. Execs, employees and clients can meet, network and “shake hands” virtually, whether they’re in Sri Lanka, Montana or Mexico.
With the increase in technology in the classroom, students can start preparing for this new way of conducting business while they’re still in b-school.