By Taylor Brouwer
The Times called last year the worst year in world history. Should we completely agree with this wording? Yes, there is no doubt that the events of the past year were a great test for both people and business, a “black swan” that caused significant and largely irreversible consequences for the entire global community. But at the same time, it also brought many new opportunities.
The business education market, like any other industry, was impacted by the pandemic and related events. This was a catalyst for a huge number of changes in the structure of supply, methodologies, and technologies of training, channels of knowledge transfer, and skills training. Absolutely all market participants were forced to quickly restructure many processes, to respond better and faster to changing demands from clients: employing companies, entrepreneurs, top managers, who in turn had to “put out the fire” and look for non-standard solutions for their businesses.
How will the situation develop in the future? What changes can we expect? Let’s try to highlight the main trends, many of which received a new impetus for development in the previous challenging period.
Further digitalization of learning
Digitalization in the business education sector is a revolutionary process that is already underway. And we are unlikely to see radical changes in the near future. Nevertheless, the pandemic situation in 2020 has greatly accelerated the introduction of digital technology into educational programs. Because of this, the once-uncommon distance learning programs have now become the standard way to improve qualifications. As a result, clients were previously surprised by the availability of distance learning programs, but now they are surprised by the lack of them.
Undoubtedly, we are witnessing a significant surge of interest in online programs. And since April 2020, the number of new trainees of such programs has more than tripled. And this is a serious challenge because it is very important to maintain the quality of the programs on a large scale. And further development will largely depend on the development of flexible learning technologies, which will allow not only the development of online products exclusively but also the adaptation of classic programs to the new conditions.
Modern business schools face a complex task – not just to transfer teacher’s “talking head” online, using standard technologies of webinars, but also to introduce a variety of tools that can reproduce the interaction of students in the classroom and provide the necessary dynamics of learning.
Learning by subscription – the development of streaming services
The development of streaming is part of the same digitalization. However, last year this solution was a real boon when business training providers were deprived of the opportunity to hold face-to-face business forums and conferences.
Such streaming platforms were able to provide not only streaming knowledge transfer, but also became a platform for networking, experience exchange, and generation of anti-crisis solutions involving many thousands of entrepreneurs, business representatives, and specialists in different industries. Live broadcasts allowed participants to feel involved in the process, master classes by world gurus in marketing, sales, strategy, and the development of personal effectiveness became available.
The process of developing such services will continue. And the task of business schools is to provide high-quality and relevant content and to develop a portfolio of training programs, tools, and techniques.
Partnership with companies – development of programs of a new format
The crisis often makes companies cut their budgets for education and funding of corporate universities. At the same time, the need to develop, maintain and improve business performance remains. For this purpose companies, in any case, should form personnel reserves, develop talents, leadership, and managerial competencies of their employees.
During this period, many corporate customers are turning to business schools, initiating processes to develop combined programs with elements of online training. Often working together leads to the creation of unique educational products that are based on practical business experience. Such educational initiatives will continue to develop both in the ecosystem of large companies and in the form of alliances with business schools.
Adjusting Program Content and Concepts: Digital Transformation, Agile Skills, and Lifelong Learning
Globally, technological advances are increasingly impacting business development. It is critical that business education programs can teach participants how to be effective in a volatile and highly competitive environment, able to create additional value for their clients through new digital and technological capabilities. It is clear that business schools will continue to enrich their programs with digital courses that teach students how to manage big data, use artificial intelligence and robotics advances.
Agile skills continue to be relevant. They enable the modern manager to better adapt to the ever-changing environment and business environment. Responding to the latest challenges, training programs in critical thinking, effective communication, self-organization, and stress management will become increasingly practice-oriented and tailored to the needs of the individual.
Finally, the need to provide training at all stages of life and career is not lost on us. We’ve talked a lot about Lifelong Learning in recent years. But due to the dynamic environment and the significant diversity of approaches, the problem has not lost its relevance. In particular, a system of lifelong entrepreneurial education promises to develop more actively. Business schools will continue to cover such programs not only for traditional categories of entrepreneurs but also for narrower segments, including start-ups and schoolchildren. The goal is to offer not just a set of programs, but a comprehensive solution that will help the development of business at different stages.
Reducing the duration of training and focusing on specific skills
This trend is not new. We have been watching it develop for several years. But clearly, the pandemic has had an impact on accelerating processes in this direction as well. In 2020, we recorded a growing interest in acquiring specific skills in a short time frame. This demand is largely driven by the rapidly changing job market and the demands of employers who are looking for qualified employees for specific functions in the interest of the business.
More and more often students prefer short-term courses aimed at solving specific business problems to more long-term program formats. The current trend now more than ever is to focus on practice and quick results.
Instead of conclusions
We should realize that we are now living in one of the most volatile periods in history when everything in our lives can suddenly change beyond recognition in a matter of months, weeks, or even days. So, for example, the exceptionally “pandemic” chips in business education are likely to go down as more and more countries vaccinate a critical mass of their populations.
So, for example, it is quite likely that there will be an increased demand for face-to-face training for some time because people miss participating in offline events. Nevertheless, there is good reason to believe that soon after that online learning will still be quite popular (if not even more popular than face-to-face learning).
The main insight here is don’t put all your eggs in one basket and be prepared to change. After all, in such a volatile world, those who bet on just one thing, which now seems eternal, risk losing everything. In order to avoid such a risk, it is worth believing in the best and preparing for the worst – so that even in case of the most unexpected events your business stays afloat.
About the Author
Taylor Brouwer is an experienced writer majoring in the spheres of education, e-education, and business education. Used to work as a learning programs creator in a couple of companies across Virginia, USA. At this time, Taylor provides “write my essay” services at Writemyessay.nyc.