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5 min read

13 January 2017

Karlie O’Hara, Principal Learning Technologist, Imperial College Business School

The inaugural international ‘Edtech and Future of Business Education’ forum was held on 9th December 2016 and brought together 26 Business Schools to share knowledge and discuss the future of the world of technology enhanced business education.

The event, hosted at Imperial College Business School, saw a community of experts and influencers from across Europe discuss some of the important questions that impact Business Education today such as ‘How will educational technology impact executive education’, ‘Are Business Schools ready to answer companies’ changing needs?’ and ‘Where content is everywhere what is value of university experience?’.

Three panels throughout the day focused on the pressing issues for educators in this age of rapid technological change, featuring speakers from industry and education including: Patty Grant (European Talent Management at Panasonic), Mark Lester (Director of Partnerships Development, FutureLearn) and Cheyne Tan (Managing Director of Civitas Learning International).

The opening keynote by Leonardo Caporarello from the SDA Bocconi School of Management highlighted the increasing expectation that corporate learning will be delivered either partly or fully online to provide a more flexible approach for learners. Caporarello outlined some of the trends in educational technology including the provision of more interactive experiences and better ways to assess skills.

The first panel of the day focused on how Edtech will impact Executive Education. Jonathan Moules, Business Education Correspondent at the FT drew parallels between the disruption of media and current trends in education and discussed how this has shifted revenue models. Cheyne Tan tackled the question of why Edtech has yielded so little investment to date, comparing uptake in the UK to the US where adoption has been more rapid due to larger scale, need and drive. Tan suggested that a greater awareness of the potential of technologies is needed to increase adoption in the UK. Mark Lester discussed the sheer pace and scale of change occurring in the workplace and how the ‘uberisation’ of the workforce is resulting in the expectation to be able to fit study alongside work, with more executives pursuing more flexible routes of study.

When posed the question of the biggest challenges facing organisations today, Patty Grant of Panasonic responded that one of these is ‘How do you create tomorrow’s leaders?’.  A recent innovation for Panasonic arose out of a blended Global Leadership Programme developed with Imperial College Business School Executive Education team, tailored to their values. For Panasonic, the blended approach has enabled participants to study theory online, participate in simulations and bring the conversation straight back to the business. Learning analytics allow Panasonic to monitor what is done online and formative assessment provides feedback to participants on their progress. Grant emphasised the importance of in-person meetings as an essential part of a leadership programme. This includes consideration to the physical space to ensure that workshops are conducive to networking.

The final discussion centred on the formula for the best flipped classroom, and blended and online programmes. The response was that there is not an overall formula but that there is a whole range of demand across the globe. The value of personal connections, syndicate groups and connection on-campus was raised as an important feature of a successful blended programme.

Imperial College Business School’s Executive MBA, launching in February 2017 employs a blended approach to harness the power of online tools and provide flexibility to busy executives in how and when they study. On-campus sessions will build upon online content to make the most of this valuable time and allow students to form a strong network. The programme has been designed in partnership with the Business School’s Edtech Lab who have used expertise from the successful Global Online MBA programme to innovate and provide an integrated experience.

The forum concluded by considering the vision for business education and how this will change. Dr David Lefevre, Director of the Edtech Lab at Imperial College Business School closed with the case that technology is a fundamental part of this and that Business Schools need to innovate and adapt to continue to provide world-class education.

The Edtech and Future of Business Education forum was organised by Leonardo Caporarello, PhD, Director of the Learning Lab at SDA Bocconi School of Management, Dr David Lefevre, Director of the Edtech Lab at the Imperial College Business School and Julie Bourguignon, Digital Learning Specialist in the Edtech Lab at Imperial Business School.


Nigel Banister (Strategic International Projects Director, Manchester Metropolitan University), Anne Berit Swanberg (Head of Learning Lab, BI Norwegian Business School), Pietro Campagna (Head of Global HR Business Partner GTB and International Network at Unicredit), Jolanta Golanowska (Director of Learning Innovation, IE), Patty Grant (European Talent Management at Panasonic), Becky Hartnup (Learning Technologies Consultant), Mark Lester (Director of Partnerships Development, FutureLearn), Chengyi Lin (Director of Strategic Innovations and Online Programmes at INSEAD), Teresa Martin-Retortillo Rubio (Executive President of Executive Education at IE Business School), Dr Pinar Ozcan (Associate Professor of Strategic Management at Warwick Business School), Matthew Robb (Managing Director, Parthenon-EY), Tom Robinson (President and CEO of AACSB International), Cheyne Tan (Managing Director of Civitas Learning International), Anu Wadhwa (Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Imperial College Business School), Jonathan Wareham (Dean of faculty and research, ESADE).


Sam Brenton (Director of Digital Learning at CASS Business School), Jonathan Moules, Business Education Correspondent, Financial Times, Gideon Shimshon (Director of the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University).

Find out more information about our new blended Executive MBA programme here, which also features in the recent The Wall Street Journal article on blended MBA programmes. 

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