Sergio Oliveri, Head of Promotion & International Media Relations at MIP Politecnico di Milano Graduate School of Business, describes the swift transition of the Business School to teaching online and interviews four professors, who share their impressions.

Classes at MIP stopped only for one day. The timely reorganisation of the teaching schedule guaranteed the normal continuation of lessons, yet in the online version, for classes initially set to take place in the classroom. Particularly appreciated was the professionalism and efficiency demonstrated by the school, as well as the respect for its students and professors, showing an understanding of the inconvenience the suspension of courses would have entailed.

“Lessons were moved online to maintain educational continuity and avoid the loss of contents or eventual postponements in the attainment of diplomas, with the goal to guarantee the same qualitative standards,” says Antonella Moretto, Associate Dean for Open Programs at MIP.

“Six years of digital experience allowed our faculty to adapt rapidly to the need to transfer all lessons online or to redesign them to not limit opportunities for interaction with students. A teaching model that has proved effective precisely because of its ability to stimulate and engage with the classroom, sometimes superior to that you are able to accomplish in face-to-face lessons. Thanks also to professors who have shown they are ready and responsive to the change.”

Teaching goes online and doesn’t stop being interactive

Filippo Satolli experimented with the “unprecedented” method with a lesson on Mobile Marketing, part of the International Master in Marketing Management, Omnichannel and Consumer Analytics programme, which included three hours of theory, and three devoted to the implementation and discussion of different project works on the part of the students. A classroom of 28 students, “that gave me a lot of satisfaction because, despite the absence of empathy characteristic of classroom lessons, the students participated and showed they were engaged,” says Satolli.

If breaking the ice was one of the most delicate moments, succeeding in finding a way to maintain the students’ attention has amply repaid efforts. Convinced of this is Paola Bellis, who moderated two online lessons on Project Management, both theoretical and practical, within the Master in Business Analytics and Big Data programme: “Despite a bit of initial difficulty, I think the interaction through the screen can put students at ease.”

A sensation confirmed by Daniel Trabucchi, also involved in the Project Management course: “Once the students gained confidence with this tool, the possibility of writing in addition to interacting verbally, helped to break down the barrier of shyness and the fear of having to speak up in the classroom by taking the microphone in hand. What also struck me was the atmosphere of support among students who started to interact, immediately putting a “like” on their respective observations.”

After theory, practice. The mission can be considered accomplished.

When it helped them prepare for the lesson, students were divided into workgroups to carry out project work. Through a special platform, they were thus put into different virtual rooms in which they could debate and discuss the project.

All the professors agree on one thing: teamwork was the most complicated part to manage, both for them and for the students.
“It was difficult, but not impossible, to complete the project on time given the difficulty of coordinating at a distance. Indeed, the students did brilliantly,” says Filippo Satolli. “In the end, the practical part also worked well, and the mission can be considered accomplished,” confirms Paola Bellis. “It’s an experience I would repeat because it was very formative, both for us and for the students.”

“I’m used to holding lessons in digital mode, but in this case, I was dealing with students accustomed to the classic classroom lessons who hadn’t chosen online learning,” says Daniel Trabucchi. “For them it was the first time and they reacted in the best of manner because they’ve been able to offer me a lot of food for thought. The feedback I received allowed me to rethink the lessons in a way I believe, and hope can be even more engaging and enjoyable.”