Five key takeaways from academic leaders in business and senior leaders in industry at Wharton’s inaugural Business Education Online Learning Summit in September.

Imagine an immersive learning experience where a pair of Oculus glasses could transport you to Shanghai for your online negotiations class. Or think about the freedom you’d have with a completely mobile learning platform that would allow you to learn anywhere you want without being tethered to a laptop or wifi.

These aren’t realities in business education yet, but they could be in the not-so-distant future, according to leaders in academia and industry who came together for Wharton’s inaugural Business Education Online Learning Summit in September.

“We are all working and learning together in ways we could not have imagined five or even three years ago,” said Anne Trumbore, Senior Director of Wharton Online.

This new era in business education began in 2012 — the year of the MOOC — as it came to be known. MOOCs (Massive Online Open Classes) emerged as a new mode of learning that disrupted the “sage on stage” model that had flourished in academic institutions for centuries. Since then, online learning has revolutionized the traditional top-down, university-driven degree approach to business education.

That’s why Wharton’s Vice Dean of Executive Education Jagmohan Raju wanted to bring together academic leaders in business and senior leaders in industry from around the world to begin a true interinstitutional discourse around the transformation of business education.

“Every industry is being disrupted as we speak. As technology comes to education, it’s really important for us to be ahead of the curve so that we can evolve and ideally transform ourselves to keep pace with where technology’s taking us,” said edX CEO Anant Agarwal, one of the panelists at the Summit. “The whole education industry is at a crossroads so it’s really important to have this conversation right now.”

Wharton’s Business Education Online Learning Summit

Hailing from four continents, 25 institutions, 26 corporations, and the U.S. Department of Education, a diverse crowd gathered in Huntsman Hall on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus for the inaugural Business Education Online Learning Summit on September 19-20.

“Our ambition was to bring together the people who are transforming online business education — business schools as content producers, online companies that are both technology platforms and distribution systems, and companies that want to invest in continuous professional development for their people,” said Geoff Garrett, Dean of the Wharton School.

Through a mix of facilitated conversations and plenary sessions, panelists and attendees discussed emerging opportunities for on-campus and on-the-job education, how online learning is proliferating historically significant shifts in traditional business education, and the relevance of business schools in this new credentialing economy.

The 5 Most Impactful Takeaways

  1. Online learning has allowed institutions to increase their reach and have a greater social impact by democratizing access to business education.
  2. Power is shifting from institutions that provide bundled degrees to consumers who assemble their own portfolio of credentials and skills to get the jobs they want.
  3. The MBA degree isn’t going away anytime soon. Alternative credentials have not been able to establish the same currency as the MBA in the job market yet.
  4. The B-to-B market in higher education is growing as collaborations between academia and industry are needed to fill the skills gap in the job market.
  5. The future of business education is a hybrid of technology-enabled learning and face-to-face instruction.

More on the Future of Business Education

So what does the future of business education look like?

One attendee’s take away from the Summit:

Wharton is already excited to continue the conversation about what that will look like at the second annual Business Education Online Learning Summit next year.

— Colleen Mullarkey

Posted: October 14, 2016

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