Business (School) models: A new paradigm in Learning?

Disruption in business models pervades business school curricula. Amazon, Uber and Netflix have each disrupted traditional markets. These companies, and many like them, provide excellent, relevant and up-to-date case studies for business school teaching. At the same time, the traditional business school model is being challenged – and there will be casualties…

Traditional teaching uses a series of lectures and seminars or workshops to deliver and then discuss knowledge, analyse phenomena and build understanding. Skilled exponents – star performers – can make the lecture a truly valuable learning event. However, this will only be for those students choosing to turn up or review the video-captured event. In the traditional model (as shown in the figure below) the Academic or Professor is provided with a platform, a timetable and a lecture hall by the institution. The academic has a heavy influence on the style of teaching, the pedagogy used and is, in effect the “delivery system” as well as being the source of knowledge in the discipline.

In its extreme form, traditional lecturing has not really changed much in 600 years. Much effort is expended in engaging students in a “lecture”, by “flipping” lectures and by using simulations, web-based survey tools and role plays by some excellent teachers but the standard of the formal lecture remains.

The advent of the internet and its networking capabilities provides disruption to this traditional model.

Today, some business schools recognise the importance of building relationships with platform providers – VLE/LMS and MOOC platforms in their latest evolution. Such relationships can help platforms to engineer the flexibility and individuality that institutions need to differentiate their offerings.

The specialist role of Learning Designer or Learning Technician is also embraced in a way that recognises the value of their contribution. Whilst some schools reward and offer progression to Key Learning Designers others are catching up. Of course, academics can become learning designers but it has long been the cry of research focused staff that there is no time to “learn new tricks”.

Finally, and by no means least, is the Academic. Often the face of the teaching and the knowledge source, especially where research and scholarship in focused areas are prized.

And a further point with networks created online – all of these features can be outsourced. A completely virtual business school is a possibility where academic staff are contracted to create the knowledge base and to act as tutors or mentors. Private learning designers are hired to put courses together and platforms are brought in to host the artefacts produced. The skill of the “School” is then to manage the various projects, the complex relationships and the systems and staff and students engaged.